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Full text of "Under King Henry's banners : a story of the days of Agincourt"

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Frontispiece.^ \_Page loj. 



UNDER KING HENRY'S 

BANNERS 1^ 

A STORY OF THE DAYS OF AGINCOURT (^C 



By 
PERCY F. WESTERMAN 

Author of 

**Th« Winning of the Golden Spurs," 

etc 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS Br JOHN CAMPBELL 



LONDON 

THE PILGRIM PRESS 
i6, PILGRIM STREET, E.C 



Fair stood the wind for France 
When we our sails advance, 
Nov now to prove our chance 

Longer will tarry ; 
But putting to the main 
At Kaux, the mouth of Seine, 
With all his martial train. 

Landed King Harry. 

And taking many a fort 
Furnish' d in warlike sort 
March' d towards Agincourt 

In happy hour ; 
Skirmishing day by day 
With those that stop'd his way, 
Where the French Gen'ral lay 

With all his power. 



Upon Saint Crispin's day 
Fought was this noble fray. 
Which fame did not delay 

To England to carry ; 
O when shall Englishmen 
With such acts fill a pen. 
Or England breed again 

Such a King Harry? 



Michael Drayton (i 563-1 631.) 



ui 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

I How News came to Warblington 

Castle i 

II The Return of the " GrAce A Dieu " .12 

III How a Friar and a Lollard met on the 

Highway 20 

IV How Geoffrey Lysle crossed the Chan- 

nel 30 

V How the Merchants tried Conclusions 

WITH LA Barre 41 

VI The Affray by the River ... 51 

VII How Geoffrey came to Taillemartel . 61 

VIII Of the Ambush laid by the Men of 

Taillemartel 71 

IX Concerning Geoffrey's Desperate 

Resolve 85 

X The Eve of St. Silvester ... 91 

XI How Sir Oliver gained his Freedom . 10 1 

XII In which Geoffrey is laid by the Heels 106 

XIII The Postern faced with Points of Steel 116 

XIV How Arnold Gripwell was Freed from 

HIS Bonds 130 

XV How THE Three Comrades seized the 

Fishing Boat 143 

T 



VI 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. PAGE 

XVI The Wreck of " L'Etoile " . . 153 

XVII Of the Company at the "Sign of the 

Buckle " 161 

XVIII Squire Geoffrey . . . .168 

XIX Treason 176 

XX The Traitors' Doom .... 189 

XXI How Geoffrey fared at the Siege of 

Harfleur 198 

XXII The March of the Forlorn Seven 

Thousand 214 

XXIII The Eve of Agincourt . . . 224 

XXIV The Battle of Agincourt . . . 240 
XXV The Massacre 254 

XXVI At the Castle of Sir Raoul d'Aulx . 267 

XXVII The Siege of Rouen .... 280 

XXVIII The Fate of Malevereux . . .288 

XXIX The Golden Spurs . . . .303 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Mace in hand, he dealt a crushing blow at 
THE RECREANT Knight . Frontispiece in Colours 

It did not TAKE LONG FOR THE ENGLISHMEN TO 

GRASP THE SITUATION . . Facing page 48 

"Throw me yon rope ! " he shouted „ 144 

"Sire, were there any who dwelt in fear of 

the issue of the battle, would they sleep 

SO QUIETLY ? " . . . . Facing page 224 
With spear thrust and sweep of axe they fell 

UPON the stormers . . . Facing page 288 



▼u 




▼Ill 



UNDER KING HENRY'S 
BANNERS 

CHAPTER I 

HOW NEWS CAME TO WARBLINGTON CASTLE 

IT was shortly after dawn, on the morning 
of March 21, 1413, that a grizzled man- 
at-arms climbed the spiral staircase in the 
south-west angle of the keep of Warblington 
Castle. 

He was dressed in a leathern suit, much 
soiled and frayed by the frequent wearing of 
armour, while on his head was a close-fitting 
cap, quilted and padded to ease the weight of 
a steel headpiece. He was unarmed, save for 
a long knife that was counterbalanced by a 
horn slung from a shoulder-strap of undressed 
hide. 

Under his left arm he bore a flag, its folds 
gathered closely to his side, as if he feared to 
injure the cherished fabric by contact with the 
rough stone walls of the staircase ; for the flag 
he had charge of was the banner of the renowned 
knight, Sir OUver Lysle, of the Castle of Warb- 



2 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

lington, in the county of Southampton, and 
of the Chateau of Taillemartel, in the Duchy 
of Normandy. 

At the one hundred and eleventh step the 
man-at-arms paused, and, raising his arm, thrust 
with all his might against an oaken trap-door, 
sheeted on the outside with lead. With a dull 
thud the door was flung backwards, and the 
old soldier gained the summit of the turret, 
which stood ten feet above the rest of the battle- 
mented keep. 

Sheltering from the strong north-westerly 
breeze that whistled over the machicolated 
battlements, the man-at-arms gazed steadily 
— not in a landward direction, where an almost 
uninterrupted view extends as far as the rolling 
South Downs, neither to the east, where the 
tall, needle-like shaft of Chichester Cathedral 
spire was gradually rearing itself heavenwards, 
nor to the west, where the sea and land blended 
in the dreary mud banks of Langstone Harbour 
— but southwards, where, partially hidden in 
wreaths of fleecy vapour, the almost land- 
locked waters of Chichester Harbour met the 
open expanse of the English Channel. 

The sound of footsteps on the stone stairs 
caused the watcher to turn his attention to the 
newcomer. 

'' Good morning, fair sir,*' he exclaimed, as 
a lad of about fourteen years of age cUmbed 
actively through the trap-door. 

'' And to thee, Arnold Gripwell. But how 
goes it ? Dost see aught of the ship ? " 

'' Nay, Master GeoSrey ; this wind, which 



WARBLINGTON CASTLE 3 

is most unseasonable for the time o' year, hath 
stirred up much mist, so that the sea cannot 
be clearly discerned.'* 

'' Tis passing strange. Sir Oliver, my father, 
hath sent word that, God willing, he would 
cross the seas from Harfleur on the eve of the 
Feast of St. Perpetua. Already fourteen days 
are spent, and yet he cometh not." 

" The reason is not far to seek," replied Grip- 
well, pointing towards the distant Portsdown 
Hills. " So long as this wind holdeth the ship 
is bound to tarry." 

" But how long, think you, will it blow thus ? 
Thou art a man skilled in such matters." 

" Nay, I cannot forecast, fair sir. For now, 
when the husbandman looketh for the east wind 
to break the ground, this most unwholesome 
air doth hold. Mark my words. Master Geoffrey, 
when it turneth we shall have another winter. 
But the sun is rising. I must display my lord's 
banner." 

So saying, he bent the flag to the halyards, 
and soon the emblem of the Lysles was flut- 
tering bravely in the breeze — azure, a turbot 
argent, surmounted by an estoile of the last — in 
other words, a silver turbot, with a silver star 
above, both on a field of blue. 

Geoffrey knew well the meaning of this device. 
The first denoted that the Lord of Warbling- 
ton was one of the coastwise guardians of the 
Channel ; the star was in recognition of a 
former Lysle's service under Edward I, on the 
occasion of a desperate night attack upon the 
Scots. 



4 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Always ready on the first summons, the 
Lysles placed duty to their king as the highest 
of their earthly devoirs, and it was their 
proud boast that no important expedition had 
crossed the Channel without the head of the 
Manor of Warbling ton in its ranks. 

Like many an English knight of that period. 
Sir Oliver Lysle had interests in France. Through 
his mother he inherited the seigneurie of Taille- 
martel in Normandy. 

France was in a deplorable condition. The 
country was torn by a fierce strife betwixt the 
Orleanists — or Armagnacs, as they were oft- 
times termed — and the Burgundians. Every 
baron and knight did as he might, trade was 
paralyzed, the poor were oppressed, and from 
Picardy to Provence, and from Brittany to 
Dauphine, chaos prevailed. 

In his own interest Sir Oliver had frequently 
to cross to France, for his turbulent neighbours, 
coveting the fair fields surrounding the feudal 
castle of Taillemartel, did not hesitate to 
encroach upon his lands. Thus, much to the 
English knight's regret, he found himself em- 
broiled in the affairs of a foreign country. 

" There is a boat coming up the rithe," ex- 
claimed Geoffrey, pointing to a small, indistinct 
object slowly moving against the strong tide 
that ebbed through the many channels by 
which Chichester Harbour is intersected. 

" Methinks thou'rt right," rephed the man- 
at-arms, shading his eyes Vvith his hand, for the 
sun had broken through the mist and its rays 
were dazzling on the water. " Yea, 'tis a craft 



WARBLINGTON CASTLE 5 

of sorts. Would my sight were as good as in 
the time of the affray of Otterburn/' 

" 'Tis but a fisherman/' repHed the lad, after 
some minutes had elapsed. " Yet he roweth 
as if he bore tidings." 

" Ay ; I wot when first I saw him that 'twas 
not thy father's cog," replied Gripwell, unwilling 
to admit the inferiority of his sense of vision, 
although he had recently confessed it. " But, 
certes, he is not one of the men of Warblington, 
and since he cometh herewards methinks his 
errand is no idle one," he added. 

" Then let us hasten to the wharf and learn 
his tidings," said Geoffrey, as he turned towards 
the stairway. 

With the rising of the sun the portcullis had 
been drawn up and the drawbridge lowered. 
So, passing the vigilant sentinel who kept watch 
and ward at the gate of the outer bailey, the lad 
and his companion made their way across the 
mead, past the church that, by a strange 
strategical blunder, stood betwixt the castle 
and the sea, and at length reached the little stone 
quay which, at all but the lowest tides, permitted 
the approach of the largest vessels of that 
period. 

" 'Tis Wat, of Sinah," exclaimed Geoffrey, 
as the rower turned his head to make sure of 
his- sinuous course 'twixt the mud banks that 
were already showing above the ebbing 
waters. 

" How now, Wat ? " quoth the man-at-arms, 
as the boat rubbed sides with the landing-place, 
and the fisherman, well-nigh breathless with 



6 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

his exertions, tossed his oars into the Uttle craft 
and scrambled up a rough wooden ladder. 

" Sir Oliver ! " he gasped. 

" And what of him ? Stand not babbling 
like a child. Out with it, gossip." 

" The Grace a Dieu lies off the Poles yonder," 
continued Wat, pointing towards the invisible 
sandbanks that encumbered the mouth of the 
harbour. " She hath come in betimes this 
morning, and even now is anchored beyond the 
bar." 

Geoffrey gave a cry of delight at the glad 
news ; but Gripwell was far from satisfied. 

" And why has not the cog stood in ? And 
how goeth it with Sir Oliver ? " 

" The ebb maketh strongly," replied the 
fisherman. " 'Twas only with much ado that I 
gained the harbour, my craft being but light. 
As thou knowest, gossip, there be none to touch 
her, not even at Bosham or Emsworth. And 
then concerning Sir Oliver. I saw him not, 
neither was I able to draw nigh to the Grace, 
It served my purpose but to come hither and 
claim the guerdon that my lady hath promised 
to him who brought the news of Sir Ohver's 
return." 

" Then get thee to the castle, Wat. As for 
thy craft, it must needs take ground, since the 
rithe dries within an hour. But that will pass, 
I'll warrant, for thy welcome will not be a hasty 
one." 

Already Geoffrey had sped to bear the news 
to his mother, the Lady Bertha, while the fisher- 
man and the man-at-arms followed, Wat in- 



WARBLINGTON CASTLE 7 

wardly chafing at the measured stride of the 
old warrior. 

Sir Ohver's wife was a tall, dignified matron 
of forty years ; stern, almost mascuHne in man- 
ner, yet devoted to her husband and son. 
During Sir Oliver's frequent absences the care 
and maintenance of the castle were entirely 
in her hands, and, from the merest detail con- 
cerning the domestic ordering of the numerous 
household to the weighty questions appertaining 
to its defence, the Lady Bertha ruled with firm- 
ness and discretion. 

Nor was she backward in maintaining her 
authority. Once, and once only, did the youth- 
ful Geo&ey take upon himself to give certain 
orders to the warriors of the outer bailey. 

" Geoffrey, my son,'' quoth his mother, 
" when thou dost attain the age of sixteen it is 
thy father's purpose to entrust thee with the 
care of this castle during his sojournings over- 
seas. When that time cometh I shall willingly 
give place to thee in the matter, but so long as 
my lord thinketh fit to make me chatelaine 
of Warblington I, and I only, must have the 
ordering o' it." 

The Lady Bertha was not slow to act on 
hearing the good tidings that were now brought 
to her. In a few minutes the castle was in a 
state of bustle. The nineteen men-at-arms 
donned their plates and headpieces, and stood 
to their arms, ready to prove to the Lord of 
Warblington that they kept good watch and 
ward ; the two score archers, putting on their 
quilted coats and iron caps, in addition to their 



8 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

everyday dress, rushed hither and thither, 
gathering evergreens, heaping piles of faggots 
in the centre of the courtyard, and bedecking 
the gateway with the arms and pennons of 
bygone days. Old Giles, the cellarer, hied him 
to his subterranean retreat, there to broach 
casks of the best vintages that Gascony and 
Burgundy could produce, while the kitchen 
staff were busy with two whole oxen. 

Then from the adjacent church tower the 
bells rang out a merry peal. Almost at the 
first note the toilers in the fields dropped their 
hoes and un^^oked the horses from the ploughs. 
They knew the meaning of the peal ; to them 
it meant, as it did on each and every occasion 
that Sir Oliver returned in safety from the 
troublous Duchy of Normandy, that the day 
was to be given up to feasting and merry- 
making. 

In the thatch-roofed houses of the little ham- 
let housewives left their hearths, tarrying only 
to thrust a bough from their upper windows as a 
sign of welcome, and trooped towards the castle 
to share with their husbands the joys of their 
feudal lord's homecoming. 

And now from the summit of the keep a 
keen-eyed sentinel espied the bluff, black bows 
of the Grace a Dieii, as, labouring slowly under 
oars, she crept up the tedious Ems worth channel 
with the young flood- tide. 

The gunners, with port fires lighted and lin- 
stocks ready to hand, v\' ere clustering round their 
cumbersome, iron-hooped bombards, gazing the 
while towards the steadily-approaching vessel. 



WARBLINGTON CASTLE 9 

The minstrels, with harp, pipe, and lute, fore- 
gathered on the green within the outer bailey, 
while the Lad}^ Bertha — who, in order to show 
that she held the castle, refrained from leaving 
the shelter of the battlements — awaited her 
husband at the barbican. 

Everything was ready for Sir Oliver Lysle's 
welcome home. 

So intent upon the approach of the expected 
vessel were the crowds that thronged the castle 
that none perceived a horseman riding from the 
direction of the city of Chichester. In hot 
haste, he spared not spur, and, scorning to keep 
to the road that led from the highway to the 
castle, he urged his steed across the newly- 
ploughed fields, while a bowshot in the rear a 
group of mounted men-at-arms followed at a 
more leisurely pace. 

Skirting the moat, he gained the barbican, 
then, drawing in his horse, he looked, with an 
expression of mingled anger and surprise, upon 
the preparations of welcome. 

The newcomer was attired in a blue doublet, 
amber cloak with fur trimmings, slashed trunks, 
and long pointed buskins of undressed leather, 
while from elbow to wrist his arms were swathed 
in black cloth. That he had ridden far and fast 
was evident by the exhausted state of his 
steed and the numerous splashes of mud and 
chalk that clung tenaciously to man and beast. 
By his left side he wore a long, straight sword, 
with a plain cross-hilt and a black leather scab- 
bard, while from the right side of his belt hung a 
short dagger and a large leather wallet. 



10 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Geoffrey recognized the newcomer as the 
seneschal of the Castle of Arundel. Nor was he 
long in ignorance of the rider's errand, for, in 
a loud voice, the officer exclaimed— 

" To the Chatelaine of Warblington greeting ; 
but methinks 'tis neither time nor place for 
expressions of gladness." 

" How so. Sir Scudamour ? " asked the Lady 
Bertha haughtily, for she took the seneschal's 
mien with disfavour. 

" By this, fair dame," and, pointing to one of 
the men-at-arms who had meanwhile arrived at 
the barbican, he called attention ^to a shield-like 
object the soldier was bearing. It was a hatch- 
ment, or escutcheon of a deceased noble, and 
the arms were those of King Henry IV — three 
lions passant quartered with fleurs-de-lys. 

Drawing a soiled parchment from his pouch 
the seneschal presented it to the Lady Bertha 
with a courteous bow, then, giving a meaning 
look of displeasure at the preparations for Sir 
Oliver's return, he wheeled his horse and galloped 
away. 

Slowly the chatelaine broke the seals and 
drew out the missive. Silence had fallen upon 
the crowd. Instinctively soldier and peasant 
knew that King Henry was no more. 

The men-at-arms and archers doffed their 
steel caps, the peasants, bareheaded and with 
mouths agape, crowded silently around the 
stately figure of the Lady Bertha, as in a loud 
voice she began to read the momentous news — 

" To all to whom these present letters shall 
come : Whereas God hath been pleased to call 



WARBLINGTON CASTLE ii 

unto Himself the soul of Henry, King of Eng- 
land, France " 

" An empty title," muttered a voice. Geof- 
frey turned ; it was Gripwell who had uttered 
these words. Fortunately for him the chate- 
laine heard him not, and went on reading. 

" Lord of Ireland, and Suzerain of the 

Kingdom of Scotland, it is hereby ordained that 
on the day following his most lamented decease 
his worthy son, Henry, Prince of Wales, Earl of 
Cornwall and Carnarvon, and Governor of 
Calais, be proclaimed King of England, France, 
Lord of Ireland, and Suzerain of Scotland. 
Oyez, oyez, oyez. God save King Henry the 
Fifth ! " 



CHAPTER II 

THE RETURN OF THE GRACE A DIEU 

FOR the nonce all thoughts of the expected 
arrival of Sir Oliver Lysle were forgotten, 
save by the Lady Bertha and her son. 

The pennons and garlands were already being 
removed, the minstrels trooped silently back to 
the great hall, and the banner of the Lysles was 
lowered to half-mast. 

Yet, although all outward signs of merry- 
making had disappeared, the feast provided for 
the tenantry was to be partaken of on the 
arrival of the Grace a Dieu. 

Soldiers and peasants gathered in small 
knots, eagerly discussing the events that were 
likely to ensue consequent upon the late mon- 
arch's decease. 

" But Prince Henry was ever a young galli- 
vant," observed Arnold Gripwell. " V faith, 
'tis no great advancement to have seen the 
inside of a gaol." 

" Have a care, gossip, or thine ears will 
suffer for it," remonstrated a bearded master- 
archer. " Boys will be bo3^s, they say. Per- 
chance our King has put off all his ill-deeds." 

" They do say that he hath made absolute 
confession," said another. " I have it on autho- 
rity of a member of Sir Thomas Erpingham's 

12 



i 



THE GRACE A DIEU 13 

household that the Prince hath repaked to the 
chapel of a recluse, and, laying bare to him 
the misdeeds of his whole hfe, hath put off the 
mantle of vice, and hath returned decently 
adorned with the cloak of virtue." 

" So be it," replied Gripwell stoutly. " The 
late King, though his title to the throne were 
but a hollow one, was ever a soldier and a man. 
Give me a man whom I can serve and follow to 
the wars, say L" 

" Then perchance thy wish will be gratified, 
Arnold," remarked Sampson, the master- 
bowman. " Prince Henry bore himself like 
a man at Homildon fight, as thou knowest. 
Who knows but that ere long we shall follow 
him to France to win back his own ? " 

" Pray Heaven it be so," returned the master- 
at-arms heartily. " For my part, Fd as lief 
cross the narrow seas as a common soldier. 
Well I remember my grandsire's tales of how 
the manhood of England crossed thither in the 
time of the great Edward. Every mean archer, 
who went as poor as a church mouse and did 
not lay his bones on French soil, returned laden 
with rich boot}^ Did not my grandsire pur- 
chase the copyhold of the farm at Nutbourne 
out of his ransom of a French knight ? " 

" But what think you. Master Sampson ? " 
asked an archer eagerly. " Dost think that the 
new King will make war ? " 

" He hath by far a better opportunity than 
Henry of Lancaster, the saints rest his soul," 
replied the bowman. " That base rebel, Glen- 
dower, hath been driven from the Welsh marches, 



14 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

and lies in hiding in the wilds of that leek-ridden 
countr}'. The Scots, too, are kept well in hand, 
so that peace on the borders is to be depended 
upon. The King hath but to raise his hand, and 
from the length and breadth of the realm the 
3'eomen of England \nll flock to his banner." 

Sir Ohver's retainers were not far from the 
mark. Like the household of many another 
knight, his men-at-arms and archers were 
tolerably well versed in the affairs affecting 
the kingdom's welfare. To them war was both 
a trade and the means of follo\ring an honour- 
able profession. 

Meanwhile the Grace a Dieu had gained the 
mouth of the httle rithe leading up to the quay, 
and was preparing to anchor. 

Again the excitement rose, but in the midst 
of the hum of suppressed anticipation an archer 
called attention to a significant fact : Sir Ohver's 
shield was not displayed from the ship's quarter. 

•' Heaven forfend that he be dead," exclaimed 
Gripwell. '' See, the Lady Bertha hath noticed 
the omission." 

L'nable to conceal her agitation, the chatelaine, 
quitting the post of honour, had crossed the 
drawbridge, and, accompanied by Geoffrey, 
was hastening towards the wharf, a crowd of 
archers and men-at-arms follo\\ing at a respect- 
ful distance. 

Already the small craft that belonged to the 
manor had put off to the newly-arrived ship, 
which, for want of water, could not approach 
within a bowshot of the shore. 

" WTiere is thy master, Sir Oliver, Simeon ? " 



THE GRACE A DIEU 15 

asked the Lady Bertha, trying the while to 
maintain her composure, as a burly, bow-legged 
man stepped out of the boat and scrambled up 
the steps of the wharf. 

Simeon Cross was the master-shipman of the 
Grace d Dieu. For more than two-score years 
had he earned his bread on the waters, being more 
used to the heaving planks of a ship than to hard 
ground. 

Awkwardly he shuffled with his feet, scarce 
daring to raise his eyes to meet the stern, ex- 
pectant look of the Chatelaine of Warblington. 

" Answer me, rascal. Where is Sir Oliver ? '' 

'' Lady, I have ever been unshipshape with 
my tongue ; were I to talk much my words 
would trip like a scowed anchor. Ere long black 
would be white, and white black, and '' 

" Cease thy babbling, Simeon, and answer 
yea or nay. Is Sir Oliver alive and well ? '' 

" Lady, yea and nay. Yea, since he is still 
in the flesh, and nay, by reason of '* 

" The saints be praised ! " ejaculated the fair 
questioner, reassured by the old seaman's reply. 
" But stand aside, I pray you, for I perceive 
that Oswald Steyning draws near. Tell me, 
Oswald, how comes it that thou hast deserted 
thy master ? Is it meet that a squire should 
return without his lord ? '' 

" Sweet lady, I had no choice in the matter," 
replied the squire, a fair-haired youth of about 
sixteen years of age. " By the express com- 
mand of Sir Oliver and of the Lord' of Maleve- 
reux I stand here this day. Sir Oliver is alive 
and, I wot, in health, but, alas ! a prisoner." 



i6 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

" A prisoner ? " 

'' Ay, fair lad3^ of the Lord of Malevereux, 
otherwise known as the Tyrant of Valadour, 
who sends this letter by my hand." 

Drawing from his pouch a sealed packet, the 
squire knelt and presented it to the chatelaine. 

" From Yves, Baron of Malevereux, Lord of 
the High, the Middle, and the Low, to the Lady 
Bertha, Chatelaine of the Castle of Warbling- 
ton, greeting : — 

" Whereas, by the grace of the blessed Saint 
Hilary, Sir Oliver Lysle, thy husband, hath fallen 
into my hands, be it known that this is my will 
and pleasure : Him will I have and hold until a 
ransom of ten thousand crow^ns be paid for the 
release of the said Sir Oliver. It is my request 
that this sum be paid on or before the eve of the 
Feast of the blessed Saint Silvester, failing which 
Sir Oliver must suffer death." 

Twice the chatelaine read the missive, then, 
turning to the squire, she asked — 

" Knowest aught of this letter ? " 

" Nay, fair lady, though I wot 'tis of cold 
comfort." 

" How came Sir Oliver to be taken ? " 

" By stealth, madame. They of Malevereux 
seized him as he lay abed in a hostel on the road 
'twixt Rouen and Taillemartel. Me they also 
took, but the Tyrant set me free in order that I 
might bear tidings to Warblington." 

" And did Sir Oliver charge thee by word 
of mouth ? " 

" Yea, 'twas thus : — ' Present my humblest 
respects to my dear lady, thy mistress, and say 



THE GRACE A DIEU 17 

that not a groat is to be paid as ransom for me/ 
No more, no less." 

" That I will bear in mind," repHed the chate- 
laine resolutely. " Meanwhile I must devise 
some answer to this Tyrant of Malevereux. 
Hast promise of safe conduct ? " 

" The word of the Lord of Malevereux is but 
a poor bond, sweet lady. Yet, since I have his 
promise, I will right willingly take the risk." 

" 'Tis well. Now to return to the castle. 
Arnold, see to the ordering of the men-at-arms, 
the archers, and the tenants. Let them have 
their feast, e'en though it be a sad one. Simeon, 
see to it that the Grace a Dieu is warped up to the 
quay at high tide, and take steps to set a goodly 
store of provisions on board, since to France 
thou must sail once more. Now, Oswald, bear 
me company, for there is much on which I must 
question thee." 

All this time Geoffrey had been a silent yet 
eager listener. Already he had grasped the 
main points of the situation, and, quick to act, 
he had made up his mind that the time had come 
for the son of Sir Oliver Lysle to prove himself 
worthy of the ancient and honourable name. 

" Tell me all thou knowest concerning this 
Tyrant of Malevereux, Oswald," began Lady 
Bertha, as the chatelaine and the two lads gained 
the comparative seclusion of the hall. 

" He is the most puissant rogue in all Nor- 
mandy, ay, in the whole of France," replied 
the squire. " Though I perceive he has writ- 
ten in a courteous style, worthy of a knight of 
Christendom, he is but a base robber and 



i8 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

oppressor of the poor, and a treacherous enemy 
to all true gentlemen of coat armour. He hath 
declared that he fears neither God, man, nor 
devil, yet withal he is of a craven disposition, 
and full of superstitious fears/' 

"It is said that on one day of the year he 
throws open his Castle of Malevereux to all who 
would fain partake of his hospitality ? '' 

" That is so, sweet lady. On the Feast of 
Saint Silvester — in commemoration of a deliver- 
ance from a great peril — the Lord of Malevereux 
doth hold a joust to which all men may come, 
saving that they leave their arms at the gate. 
Beyond that 'tis said that no man, other than 
the Tyrant's retainers, hath set foot within the 
castle save as a captive." 

" The Feast of Saint Silvester ! " exclaimed the 
Lady Bertha. " On that day this base knight 
would fain receive ransom for Sir Oliver." 

" Might I not be permitted to go to France ? " 
asked Geoffrey, speaking for the first time during 
the conversation. " I would desire to have 
some small chance of advancement 'gainst this 
villainous baron." 

" Thou'rt but a lad, Geoffrey," replied his 
mother. '' I commend thy courage and deter- 
mination ; they do thee honour, but the task 
is beyond thee." ] 

" I am almost of the same age as that most 
puissant knight, Edward the Black Prince, when 
he fought at Crecy, and as old as our new King 
when he crossed swords with Lord Percy at 
Otterburn," asserted Sir Oliver's son. '' Oswald 
hath followed my father Francewards these 



>N N 



THE GRACE A DIEU 19 

two years. Therefore, saving your presence, 
I ought to be up and doing.'' 

" Tis a matter that demands careful considera- 
tion, Geoffrey, though I do perceive that thou 
art not hke a girl that hath to stay at home. 
Even as a young hawk hath to leave the nest, 
a knight's son must, sooner or later, quit the 
shelter of his parents' roof. But of that more 
anon. It is in my mind that the good knight, 
Sir Thomas Carberry, who holds the Castle of 
Portchester,%hould hear of the mishap that hath 
befallen my lord." 

" Wouldst that I ride thither ? " asked Geof- 
frey eagerly, for the doughty knight was ever a 
favourite of the lad. 

" That is my desire, Geoffrey. The day is 
but young, and thou canst return ere sundown. 
Oswald shall bear thee company." 



CHAPTER III 

HOW A FRIAR AND A LOLLARD MET ON THE 
HIGHWAY 

IN a few moments the lads had donned their 
cloaks, girded on their swords — since none 
of quality ever ventured upon the highway save 
with a weapon ready to hand — and given orders 
for their horses to be saddled and brought to the 
gate. 

" Have I to bear a letter ? " asked Geoffrey, 
as he came to announce his departure. 

" Nay, my son ; word of mouth will suffice. 
Now, get thee gone, and the saints preserve 
thee." 

Swinging easily into the saddle, the lads 
applied spur; and at a steady trot they crossed 
the drawbridge and gained the open country. 

It v/as but a distance of some seven miles 
'twixt the Castles of Warblington and Port- 
chester, while, being part of the great southern 
highway between the populous borough of 
Southampton and the coast towns of Sussex, 
there was generally a small number of travellers 
to be met. 

For a while the two lads chatted eagerly, 
Geoffrey questioning his companion concerning 
his adventures beyond the seas, and of the events 
that led up to Sir Oliver's captivity. And as 

20 



HOW A FRIAR AND A LOLLARD MET 21 

they talked Geoffrey's resolution was rapidly 
becoming stronger. Gaining confidence from 
Oswald's unassuming self-reliance, he realized 
that with a good heart youth is capable of 
overcoming many obstacles. 

At length, hard by the hamlet of Bedhampton, 
the road began to ascend a spur of chalk down. 
From the summit a splendid view greeted the 
iads. As far as the eye could see was a flat 
plain, intersected by two large harbours, while 
away on the left, beyond a silver streak of sea, 
rose the rolling down of the Isle of Wight. 
Ahead, at a distance of over four miles, a mas- 
sive square tower proudly reared itself hard by 
the head of the furthermost harbour. It was 
the Castle of Portchester. 

Barely had the two riders gained the foot of 
the ridge when they suddenly came upon a 
grey-cloaked figure bending over a heap of 
rubbish by the wayside. Evidently it had been 
thrown there from a neighbouring smithy, for 
scraps of old iron horseshoes predominated. 

" 'Tis a friar," exclaimed Oswald, as the man, 
hearing the sound of horses' hoofs, drew him- 
self up and began to amble along the chalky road. 

Doifing reverentially as they passed, the two 
lads cast a furtive glance at the cloaked and 
hooded friar, as he fumbled beneath his garments 
as if to conceal something. The man's face 
was far from pleasant. Shifty eyes, sharp 
pointed nose, loose lip, and flabby jowl gave him 
a crafty, foxlike appearance, yet to the two 
unworldly lads a friar could be nought else but a 
holy member of the Church. 



22 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Ere they had ridden another quarter of a 
mile something prompted the lads to look 
over their shoulders, and to their surprise 
they perceived that the friar had returned to 
the rubbish heap. 

" 'Tis a strange occupation for a holy man/' | 
observed Oswald. " To what purpose doth he 
tarry at yonder spot ? '' 

" Nay, I know not," replied Geoffrey. " Per- 
chance he finds it a fitting place for meditation." 

With this the subject was dismissed, and the ^ 
two riders urged their steeds to a brisker pace. | 

At length they arrived at the castle of Sir 
Thomas Carberry, where, on being announced, 
they were ushered into the knight's presence. 

" Yves of Malevereux, dost say ? " exclaimed 
Sir Thomas. " x\lack-a-day that Sir Oliver j 
should fall into the toils of such a caitiff. I | 
know the Tyrant well, having had a slight bick- 
ering with him, not once nor twice." 

'' Is there indeed no means of securing my 
father's release save by ransom ? The payment 
of ransom he hath forbidden," said Geoffrey. 

" Perchance, should war ensue and an English 
army again set foot on French soil, the King 
might see fit to send a troop of lances and a body 
of archers to rid the world of the pest. Would 
that I could adventure myself on Sir Oliver's 
behalf, yet I fear that affairs of the realm will 
prevent my so doing. Nevertheless, I'll do my 
devoirs to the Lady Bertha. Convey her my 
most humble regards, and say that I will ride 
over to Warblington to-morrow morn." 

" I have asked my mother to give me leave 



HOW A FRIAR AND A LOLLARD MET 23 

to journey to France/* said Geoffrey. " Couldst 
thou not throw in thy weighty word for me, Sir 
Thomas ? " 

" Certes ! How canst thou hope to over- 
come the Lord of Malevereux, Geoffrey ? Never- 
theless, 'tis right and meet that the son of Sir 
Ohver should see to his affairs at Taillemartel. 
There thou couldst be of service. Say no more 
now, but on the morrow Til broach the matter.*' 

" Sir, I crave your pardon and your opinion,** 
said Oswald. " Dost think that the King will 
advance his claim to the French throne ? ** 

" Without a doubt.'* 

'' I am right glad to hear of it,** replied Oswald. 
" There is much advancement to be made in such 
matters.'* 

" Not without losses, hunger, and discomforts,** 
added the knight, smiling at the youth's ardent 
words. " Young men are apt to look upon only 
the bright side of war. Such views I myself have 
held, but as time runs on we elders know more 
of the dark side of the picture. Nevertheless, at 
the first call to arms I, amongst many, will not 
be found wanting." 

" What think ye of our new King ? ** asked 
Geoffrey, more bluntly than he intended. 

The knight shook his head. 

" *Tis not meet that a soldier should offer 
an opinion of his liege lord," he replied. 
" Henry V is my King, and to me that is suffi- 
cient reasoning for unswerving loyalty. A true 
Englishman's duty is to serve loyally, be he 
knight or commoner ; therefore, I counsel you, 
reject all reports to the belittlement of King 



24 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Harry, strive to live upright and true to those 
set in authority, and all will go well." 

With this advice Sir Thomas dismissed his 
visitors, renewing his assurance that on the 
morrow he would journey to see the Chatelaine 
of Warblington in person. 

" Since Sir Thomas hath promised to speak 
in my favour my hopes are raised," remarked 
Geoffrey. " Who knows but that ere the Feast 
of St. Mark I may be upon French soil." 

" Since the Lady Bertha hath charged me to 
convey her reply to Malevereux we may bear one 
another company," replied Oswald. '' But what 
have w^e here ? " 

The travellers had now reached the out- 
skirts of the little hamlet of Cosham. Outside 
a mud-and-wattle cottage a large crowd, com- 
prising nearly all the inhabitants and a sprink- 
ling of strangers, had collected. That something 
was amiss was apparent by the low murmur that 
reached the lads' ears as they approached. 

" If 'tis some slight affray 'tis our duty to 
aid the weaker side," said Oswald, his right hand 
flying to his sword-hilt. " See to it that thou 
dost strike yarely should occasion arise." 

Urging their horses through the fringe of the 
crowd, the two youthful champions of oppressed 
right came upon a scene they had not bargained 
for. 

Standing in the doorway was a woman, middle- 
aged and comely, whose face was a study of 
mingled perplexity, indignation, and fright. 

In the middle of a semicircle formed by the 
crowd towered a powerfully made man of com- 



HOW A FRIAR AND A LOLLARD MET 25 

manding and noble aspect, dressed in plain yet 
rich garments of sober russet cloth tipped with 
fur. Save for a short dagger he was unarmed, 
a vellum-bound book hanging by a steel chain 
occupying the place of a sword. 

Held at arm's length by the stranger's muscu- 
lar arm was the friar whom the lads had seen 
at Bedhampton that same morning. The 
man's hang-dog face was convulsed with fury, 
though it was evident that he was in terror 
of the stranger, whose anger was as apparent 
as that of his captive. 

Ignoring the hurried undertone remonstrances 
of a merchant, the stranger addressed the throng 
in a loud voice. 

" My good people," he exclaimed, '' how much 
longer will ye suffer yourselves to be deluded by 
such cloaked and cowled rascals as this ? By 
what authority doth the friar claim the right to 
sell pardons and absolutions for every sin that 
besets us ? Not by that of One above, I'll 
warrant. And how can a parcel of so-called 
relics possess the power of imparting nameless 
virtues to the dupe who hath purchased them ? 
Hold up the trickster's wares," he continued, 
addressing a sheepish-looking countryman. 
" Nay, do not hesitate ; if so be a murrain falls 
upon the unbeliever, on my head be it." 

Thus encouraged the peasant stooped and 
picked up something from the ground. 

" Hold them up," commanded the stranger 
authoritatively. " Raise them high above thy 
head that all may see." 

The man obeyed, g,nd, to Geoffrey's astonish- 



26 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

ment, displayed a piece of a horseshoe and a bent 
and rusted nail. 

" Now, dame/' continued the stranger, speak- 
ing in a kindlier tone. " Tell me how named 
your friar this fragment of horseshoe ? '' 

" 'Tis a piece of the shoe of the ass that bore 
the Blessed Virgin into Egypt," quavered the 
woman. 

"Nay, say not ' 'tis,' but ' 'twas' told me," 
corrected the stranger. " Now, once again, 
whence comes this twisted clout ? " 

'' A nail from the tree on which was crucified 
the blessed St. Edmund," replied the dame. 

" That savours less of the lie," quoth her in- 
terrogator, " seeing that 'tis said that at the 
town of Bury the tree still stands. Answer 
me, did your friar also say 'twas the very nail 
that pierced the martyred King's limbs ? " 

" Ay, an' it please thee," replied the woman. 

" Then there I have him," exclaimed the 
stranger. " How can a nail of this length pierce 
a man's palm and hold him to a tree ? See 
for yourselves, my masters, that 'tis beyond 
reason. Tell me, dame, what price did'st thou 
pay for these baubles ? " 

'' A silver groat." 

" Then lest it be said that I despoiled the 
Church, I will reimburse thee. Now, friends, 
one more question ; since when hath it been the 
custom to shoe an ass with a horseshoe ? " 

A roar of laughter from the crowd greeted 
this hit. Then with a rapid motion of his arm 
the stranger flung the fragments of iron far across 
an adjoining field. 



HOW A FRIAR AND A LOLLARD MET 27 

" Hence/' he thundered, relaxing his grasp 
on the terrified friar, and with a tremendous 
buffet on the ear he sent the wretched man 
reehng through a lane betwixt the amazed 
spectators. 

" Have a care, my Lord Cobham,'* whispered 
the merchant, plucking at the knight's sleeve. 
" Affront not the Church. Already 'tis said 
that my Lord Archbishop hath applied to pro- 
ceed against thee. Do not, I pray thee, give 
thine enemies more cause for offence." 

" I have no quarrel with the Church, but with 
the Church's flagrant offences. Master Pearce. 
As for my lord the Archbishop, let him do his 
worst. The King, a grandson of John of Gaunt, 
will see to it that justice to the Lollards be done. 
Moreover, I have the honour of being a friend 
of Harry Monmouth. Shall he, as King, think 
fit to abandon me to mine enemies, then God's 
will be done. I am not the first to suffer for 
truth's sake. 

" And now, friends," he continued, addressing 
the crowd once more, " I trust that this slight 
bickering hath been to your souls' advantage. 
Try to use the wits that have been given you 
for your advancement ; be not led by the nose 
by such as ye have just seen. Here is the lamp 
that guideth your way, though I must fain admit 
'tis at present but a feeble glimmer." And he 
touched the Book that was hanging from his belt. 

"Soon," he continued, "the day will come 
when all men shall hear the Word in the vulgar 
tongue, and to that set purpose hath Wycliffe 
laboured and his followers are toiling still." 



28 UNDER KING HENRY'S Bx\NNERS 

Thereupon the Lollard proceeded to read a 
chapter from the English translation of the Bible, 
and for the first time his listeners heard it read 
in a simple and familiar language. 

This done, my Lord Cobham went on his way, 
gravely returning the lads' salutation as they, 
too, proceeded on their journey. 

"This meeting hath opened my eyes," ob- 
served Oswald. " E'en though I saw yon friar 
in the rubbish heap I little thought his purpose 
was to trick his listeners." 

" Yet though I felt admiration for the knight, 
I cannot beheve that his doctrine is wholly 
right," replied Geoffrey . " Methinks it savours 
of rebellion." 

" Mark well, he said not a word against the 
Church." 

" That I noticed. Yet it is to be hoped that 
the friar is but one of a few black sheep. Father 
Hilarius is not of that style." 

" Nay, a more broad-minded, upright priest 
I do not wish to meet," replied Oswald. " But 
concerning the Lord Cobham, is he not the same 
as Sir John Oldcastle ? He is a sturdy Lollard 
and a friend of the King to boot." 

" Methinks thou'rt right," assented Geoffrey. 
" 'Tis the same Oldcastle of whom my father 
hathofttimes spoken. Now reason with thyself 
a space ; this knight seemeth to be a right godly 
man. Therefore it follows, since he is an admit- 
ted friend of the King's, that he would not have 
mentioned the matter were the King, while 
Prince of Wales, the rascal — save the term — 
that men would make him out to be. 



HOW A FRIAR x\ND A LOLLARD MET 29 

'' We know," went on Geoffrey, '' that Judge 
Gascoigne committed the Prince to prison. 
That was for an offence done in the heat of 
anger. Lord Cobham was angry even now, 
when he buffeted the friar, but I wot he is not a 
man to consort with drunkards and dissolute 
persons. Mark well, also, that Sir Thomas Car- 
berry had not a word to say against the King : 
therefore I shall believe that all their stories 
concerning him are baseless. 

" But come," he added, " we must hasten, 
for already the sun is low in the sky." 

In silence the lads proceeded on their journey. 
Both were thoughtful, for the events of the day 
had added another perplexity to their small store 
of worldly difficulties. Thus pondering, they 
returned to the Castle of Warblington, where 
the chatelaine was eagerly awaiting to hear the 
result of their fateful errand. 



CHAPTER IV 

HOW GEOFFREY LYSLE CROSSED THE CHANNEL 

SIR THOMAS CARBERRY was as good as 
his word. He rode over to Warblington be- 
times on the following morning, where he was 
welcomed by the chatelaine and her assembled 
household. 

Being a man of action, the knight lost no time 
in dealing with the matter that had brought him 
thither. 

" I can well understand Sir Oliver's wishes 
in this matter," he remarked. " Since he will 
not have a ransom paid on his behalf, and on the 
other hand the Tyrant of Malevereux doth 
threaten him with death should the gold not be 
forthcoming, it is certain that we are in a strait. 
Thou sayest that the garrison of Taillemartel 
is not strong enough to assail the baron's strong- 
hold ? Then some other plan must be con- 
sidered. Methinks the great thing is to gain 
time with this recreant Lord of Malevereux. To 
that end it would be well to reply guardedly to 
his letter." 

" But not to promise payment of the 
ransom? " 

" Not in plain words. Write that ere the 
Feast of Saint Silvester the demands of the Lord 

30 




SIRE^ WERE THERE ANY WHO DWELT IN FEAR OF THE ISSUE OF THE 
BATTLE, WOULD THEY SLEEP SO QUIETLY?" 

[Page 2J0. 



HOW GEOFFREY LYSLE CROSSED 31 

of Malevereux will be met. That need be all ; 
thy husband's squire can deliver the mes- 
sage, since he hath been promised safe con- 
duct." 

" But will the Tyrant keep to his word con- 
cerning the good treatment of Oswald ? " de- 
murred the Lady Bertha. " It is hardly meet 
that the lad should be placed in the power of 
this recreant knight." 

" For my part I care but little, fair lady," said 
Sir Ohver's squire. " Since my place is with 
my lord — and 'twas not my doing that I was 
compelled to leave him at Malevereux — I'll bear 
the letter to Sir Yves in person. Should he think 
fit to keep his word, well and good ; other- 
wise I must rest content that I am to be kept in 
durance with Sir Oliver." 

" Well spoken, squire," exclaimed Sir Thomas 
Carberry. " See to it that thy actions are as 
brave as thy speech. Now, there is yet another 
point. Who holds the Castle of Taillemartel in 
Sir Oliver's absence ? " 

The chatelaine did not reply. Instinctively 
she realized the motive of the question. 

" Hath my son said aught to thee concerning 
his wish to go Franceward ? " she asked. 

" Fair lady, he hath," replied the knight. 
*' Moreover, 'tis right and meet that he, as Sir 
Oliver's son, should hold Taillemartel in his 
father's absence. Thrust aside thy feelings as a 
mother. Lady Bertha, and make a sacrifice to 
duty. The lad, from what I know of him — and 
that is not a little — hath courage, wisdom, and 
discretion beyond his years. Let him have 



32 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

the ordering of Taillemartel, and I'll warrant 
he'll prove a right worthy limb of the old Lysle 
stock/' 

" And what can be done towards the actual 
setting free of my husband ? " 

" Concerning myself, this affair could not 
have happened at a more inopportune time. 
Until I learn King Harry's wishes I am tied to 
my Castle of Portchester ; otherwise would I 
right gladly take a troop of lances, add them to 
the garrison of Taillemartel, and together they 
would have the Castle of Malevereux about its 
owner's ears in less than a week. Did Sir Oliver 
ever mention the name of Sir Raoul d'Aulx, 
seigneur of Maissons ? " 

" I cannot call the name to mind." 

" This Sir Raoul is a Burgundian knight, a 
right worthy gentleman of good repute. Sir 
Oliver and I fought side by side with him 'gainst 
the Paynims of Barbary, under the late King, 
when he was but Henry of Lancaster. Now it 
is in my mind to write to the Seigneur of Mais- 
sons that he should beleaguer the Castle of 
Malevereux ; knowing that he hath just cause 
'gainst Sir Yves, and that he hath great 
regard for Sir Oliver, this request may find 
favour in Sir Raoul's eyes. To that end I'll 
send my squire, Richard Ratclyffe, with thy son 
and Sir Oliver's squire, Oswald Steyning. When 
will Geoffrey be ready for the journey ? " 

" The Grace d Dieii lies in the harbour fit 
to take the sea within an hour," replied the 
chatelaine with a sigh, for, although she was 
resigned to Sir Thomas Carberry's plan, the 



HOW GEOFFREY LYSLE CROSSED 33 

thought of parting with her son seemed well- 
nigh unbearable. 

" Then the sooner the better, since the wind 
holds fair. I'll send my squire to thee this 
night. Now, bear up, fair lady, for by the 
blessing of the saints. Sir Oliver will sit at 
his ease in Warblington Castle ere the feast of 
St. Silvester." 

So saying Sir Thomas took his leave, while 
the chatelaine busied herself with preparations 
for her son's journey. 

That night Geoffrey kept vigil in the little 
church of St. Thomas a Becket, vowing to be 
courageous and honourable in warfare, court- 
eous to women, and just towards those under 
his authority, as befitting the son of a true 
knight who himself aspired to the gilded spurs. 
But when he prayed that he might take ven- 
geance upon the Lord of Malevereux, Father 
Hilarius gently reproved him. 

" Vengeance, my son, hath no place within 
the mind of a gentleman of quality ; leave 
that in the hands of One above, who, if He 
think fit, will grind the oppressor between 
the upper and nether millstones of His wrath. 
In thy dealings with thy fellow-men see to it 
that justice is ever tempered with mercy." 

At length the eventful day dawned. At 
the head of the rithe lay the Grace a Dieu, her 
huge square sail, emblazoned with the arms 
of the Lysles, being loosely furled ready to be 
sheeted home at the shipmaster's call. 

Geoffrey and the two squires, Oswald Ste3m- 
ing and Richard Ratclyffe, attended by the 



34 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

stout old man-at-arms, Arnold Gripwell, and 
three trusty archers, boarded the skiff that 
was to take them off to the larger vessel. The 
hour of parting had come and gone, and with 
heavy heart Sir Oliver's son saw the crowd 
of tenantry on the shore grow less and less 
distinct. 

But the moment the lads set foot upon the 
deck of the Grace d Dieu the bustle and excite- 
ment of setting sail dispelled for the time their 
feeling of sadness. 

Old Simeon Cross, the master-shipman, was 
standing by the long tiller, shouting orders at 
the seamen to the accompaniment of a string 
of expletives uttered in half a dozen different 
tongues. 

" Yarely, now, yarely with the cable ! Dick, 
do you attend to the vang ; Tom, thou rap- 
scallion, haul handsomely on yonder brace. 
Avast heaving there ! Now she feels it ! '* 

Before the steady north-westerly breeze the 
Grace a Dieu bore rapidly down the Ems worth 
Channel ; the low-lying islands of Thorney 
and Hayling were quickly passed, and, after 
a buffeting on the wind-swept bar, the staunch 
vessel was curtseying to the long, heavy swell 
of the English Channel. 

Ere noon the Sussex Downs were but a low, 
indistinct line of blue against the northern 
sky, while the rounded hills of the Isle of Wight 
were fading away on the starboard quarter. 

Then, having given the helmsman the 
course by means of the lodestone that did duty 
for a compass, Simeon went below to rest, 



HOW GEOFFREY LYSLE CROSSED 35 

since he must needs be on deck throughout the 
coming night. 

'' The Enghsh shore is well-nigh lost to 
view," remarked Oswald. " Ere morning we 
ought to see the coast of France, an this wind 
hold." 

" Aye, an we are not molested by any of the 
sea rovers that infest the Channel," added 
Gripwell. " Now, young sirs, Fll wager that 
old Simeon will descry the French coast ere 
either of your young eyes can do so." 

" I have heard it said that a shipmaster's 
vision is better by far than a landsman's,*' 
replied Richard Ratclyffe. "Yet I call to 
mind a device that my master. Sir Thomas, 
purchased from a monk of Limoges. It was 
but a tube of wood filled with sundry pieces 
of glass, yet one could distinguish a man's 
features a league away." 

" By St. George, Master Ratclyffe," exclaimed 
Gripwell, " thou art trying to befool us, saving 
thy presence. See a man's face a league off, 
forsooth 1 Certes, next thou'lt say that it is 
possible for a person in England to clap a trum- 
pet to his mouth and speak to another in France. 
Go to, Master Ratclyfe, Arnold Gripwell is not 
to be caught by such reports." 

" Yet such is the truth, Gripwell," replied 
the squire. 

" When I see it Fll believe it," retorted the 
man-at-arms sturdily. 

Ere nightfall the wind dropped, and the Grace 
d Dieti floundered sluggishly in the long rolling 
swell. Under the influence of this unaccus- 



36 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

tomed motion Richard Ratclyffe was the first 
to succumb to the woeful malad}^ of sea-sickness. 
Geoffrey was soon in Hke case. The others, 
having crossed the sea beforetimes, w^ere more 
hardened to its usages. 

" Go below and lie down awhile," counselled 
Arnold Grip well. " Ere ye wake the evil will 
have left you." 

" I would there were some other way of 
crossing to France," said Geoffrey miserably. 

" Tis part of the game, and must be borne 
with a good heart," replied Grip well. " This 
is the only way, and ever will be the only way, 
as far as I can see, unless men devise a means 
of flying thither through the air. How think ye. 
Master Ratclyffe," he added slyly, but the squire 
was beyond the sting of banter. 

Lulled by the motion of the vessel, Geoffrey 
sank into a deep yet troubled slumber, nor did 
he awake till he was aroused by the man-at-arms 
shaking him by the shoulder. 

" Up with ye, Master Geoffrey," he ex- 
claimed. " There's foul work without, and if so 
be we can play our part every man jack will be 
wanted." 

"What's amiss?" asked the lad, sitting up. 
All feelings of sea-sickness had left him ; excite- 
ment had conquered the landsman's arch- 
enemy. 

" On deck, and thou'lt see," replied Grip- 
well curtly as he^^hastened to rouse the other 
lads. 

It was a strange sight that greeted Geoffrey 
Lysle as he gained the deck. Day had just 



HOW GEOFFREY LYSLE CROSSED 37 

broken, and the pale grey light revealed the 
presence of two ships lying a mile or so to 
leeward of the Grace a Dieu. 

One, a tall wall-sided ship, was striving to 
keep at bay a long, low-lying galley, from which 
showers of arrows, quarrels, stones, and spears 
were being hurled by the crowd of men who 
thronged her low fo'c'sle and towering poop. 

" What are we to do, good Master Grip- 
well ? " asked Simeon, the shipmaster, anxiously. 
" Yonder lies the ship Brothers of Lymington, 
I know her well. She is a stout merchantman, 
but slow ; though, by St. Peter, the Grace a 
Dieu could scarce gain a bow-shot length on 
her in an hour. The galley, if mine eyes do not 
deceive me, belongs to the Republic of Genoa, 
and scant mercy shall we receive at her hands. 
What are we to do ? " 

" Do ? " exclaimed Grip well in high disdain. 
" Why, Simeon, trick her. If we flee we are 
lost, since she can sail two yards to our one. 
Art willing to leave this matter in my hands ? '' 

" Ay, good Arnold," replied the shipmaster 
nervously. 

-^-!!^Then, do you steer straight for yonder 
ships. Ho there, Wat ! Bring forth every 
spear and every steel cap that is in the ship. 
Thomas of Gosport, do you wind your horn 
and blow a rousing blast. The rest of you, 
shipmen and archers all, don steel caps and stand 
fast in the waist till I give ye word." 

So saying, Gripwell left the deck and went 
below. Meanwhile Geoffrey and his two com- 
rades were strugghng into their plates and steel 



38 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

casques, knowing that there was hot work 
afoot, yet wondering what the man-at-arms 
was about. 

Presently Gripwell re-appeared, bearing six 
large shields of painted canvas, emblazoned 
with the arms of the principal knights of Hamp- 
shire. 

'' Now ye be each two knights," he shouted 
light-heartedly. " Sixteen years ago come 
Martinmas these devices hung in the great hall 
of Warblington when Sir Oliver was wed. Ever 
since that day have I kept them. Whenever I 
journey by water they go with me. Now, Sir 
Geoffrey, take thy place on the poop with 
Sir Oswald ; Sir Richard, the waist is under 
thy charge. I am for the fo'c'sle." 

So saying the man-at-arms proceeded to hang 
the shields over the ship's sides, according to 
the custom when knights adventured themselves 
on the high seas. Every man had donned a 
steel cap, and was grasping two and sometimes 
three lances, so that the rays of the rising sun 
glittered upon a small forest of steel. 

" Turn her aside, I pray thee, Simeon, and let 
yonder rogues see our knights' shields," ordered 
Gripwell, and obediently the master-shipman 
thrust the helm hard over so that the Grace a 
Dieu exposed the whole of her broadside to the 
two antagonists. 

" Now, wind thy horn once more, Thomas," 
he continued as the ship resumed her course 
straight for the Genoese galley. " Heaven help 
us if they see through the trick," he added in an 
undertone. 



HOW GEOFFREY LYSLE CROSSED 39 

The Lymington ship, taking heart at the 
prospect of a rescue, redoubled her fire of 
arrows and stones, but withal the galley stuck 
doggedly to her prey. Nearer and nearer came 
the Grace d Z)z^dzi, the lead-coloured water hissing 
from her bluff bows as her huge sail caught the 
rising breeze. 

" We must fight them,'' quoth Oswald, 
" unless they give way. If we are to die 'tis 
better to fall in the heat of the fight than to 
have our throats cut in cold blood, for yon 
rascals give quarter to none — not even a gentle- 
man of coat-armour." 

" Give the Lymington men a rousing cheer, 
lads," shouted Gripwell. " Then stand to your 
arms and fight as you have never done before. 
Now, together ! " 

From five-and-twenty lusty throats a hoarse 
shout ascended in a roar of defiance. 

This was too much for the Genoese. Thinking 
they had a shipload of valiant knights and their 
followers to reckon with, they sheered off, the 
huge sail was run up, and fifty oars splashed 
in the w^ater. Once on the move the galley 
did not stop till it was a mere dot on the skyline. 

" A wax candle as thick as my arm shall burn 
on the altar of the Church of St. Thomas k 
Becket at Warblington for this great deliver- 
ance," exclaimed the master-shipman fer- 
vently. " r faith, methought I had lost both 
ship and life when the rogues held on." 

" Bear up, that w^e may have speech with 
the Brothers of Lymington/' said Gripwell. 
" Seeing that she sails but a trifle slower than 



40 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the Grdce d Dieu it would be fitting that both 
sailed in company." 

As the Grdce a Dieu drew up close alongside 
the succoured merchant ship the bellowing 
voice of the shipmaster of the Brothers was 
heard thanking these gentle and courteous 
knights for their timely aid. 

" And though I be little skilled in reading 
the devices of gentlemen of coat-armour," 
added a voice, " I do perceive that the shield 
of my Lord Bishop of Winchester is displayed. 
Bear my humble respects to his Grace, and say 
that out of gratitude, I, Paul Roche, of the hon- 
ourable company of Goldsmiths of the free 
borough of Southampton, do hereby promise 
a bar of virgin gold to the service of the Dean 
and Chapter of the See of Winchester." 

" Better by far give the gold to me. Master 
Roche," repHed Gripwell with a hearty laugh, 
and to the astonishment of the passengers and 
crew of the Brothers the story of the ruse was 
unfolded. 

The proposal that the two ships should com- 
plete the voyage in company was quickly ac- 
cepted, and keeping a bow-shot apart the Grdce 
a Dieu and the Brothers headed for the French 
coast. 

Six hours later both vessels passed between 
the twin towers that guarded the entrance to 
the port of Harfieur, the principal harbour of 
Normandy, and Geoffrey had set foot upon 
French soil. 



CHAPTER V 

HOW THE MERCHANTS TRIED CONCLUSIONS WITH 
LA BARRE 

THE three lads had Httle time to spend at 
Harfleur. That walled town, had Geof- 
frey but known, was to play an important part 
in his career, but being ignorant of the future 
he merely gazed at the Norman stronghold 
with the curiosity common to those who find 
themselves in foreign parts for the first time. 

The Grace a Dieii and the Brothers were 
moored side by side in the inner harbour, 
and advantage was taken of their proximity by 
Master Roche and his fellov/ merchants to pay a 
visit to the ship that had saved them from 
beggary, slavery, or death. 

" To Rouen is it, my masters ? " exclaimed 
Roche. " Since that is also my intention, 
why not travel in company ? It so happens 
that we have hired a large boat to ascend the 
river ; an it please you, ye are right welcome to 
a passage." 

" Twould be well to accept the offer," replied 
Arnold Gripwell, turning to Geoffrey. " 'Tis 
said that the roads in these parts are none too 
safe for travellers, howbeit they be armed. 
'Twill also save the heavy disbursement that 
we must otherwise make for the hire of suitable 
steeds." 

41 



42 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

" Alack-a-day ! " groaned Richard Ratclyffe. 
" Methought I had finished with the water for 
some time to come/' 

" Little needst thou consider that, Dick," 
rephed Geoffrey. " The river is not to be 
compared with the sea. Here we shall not be 
troubled by rough waves." 

" Be not so sure about it," remarked Grip well, 
with a roguish twinkle in his eye. 

" How so ? " 

" Thou'lt know ere long," replied the man-at- 
arms shortly. 

Next morning at high-water the Grace d Dieu 
warped out into the river on her return voyage, 
while the Brothers, compelled to wait for cargo 
until the return of the English merchants from 
Rouen, was left in the charge of her shipmaster 
and crew. 

Just before low tide a " bac " or ferry-boat 
manned by a crew of Normans came alongside 
the Brothers. This was the craft in which 
Geoffrey and his comrades were to make their 
sixty-mile voyage to the capital of Normandy. 

The boat was about thirty feet in length, 
broad of beam, and shallow draught. With the 
exception of a small deck for'ard and a slightly 
longer one aft, under which a low-roofed cabin 
provided cramped quarters at night or in wet 
weather, the boat was open. Broad thwarts or 
benches for the rowers occupied the space amid- 
ships, for oars were used except on rare occasions 
when the wind was astern, and a square sail 
could be set with advantage. 

At the second hour of the flood the bac left 



THE MERCHANTS AND LA BARRE 43 

Harfleur, and under the steady, powerful strokes 
of the rowers, made good progress. 

Geoffrey could not help noticing the appar- 
ently erratic manner in which the bearded 
helmsman steered, frequently turning the boat 
in diverse way, although the general direction 
was up stream. 

" Tis well he doth so,'' said Grip well in 
answer to the lad's question. " Were it not for 
his skill we should be hard aground on one of 
the many sandbanks that lie hereabout." 

At length the voyagers saw that the river 
was rapidly diminishing in width, while on either 
hand low-lying banks were clothed in verdure, 
for the hand of the spoiler had as yet left this 
part of Normandy untouched. 

Still maintaining their even, tireless strokes, 
the rowers stuck to their task, till the villages of 
Tancarville and Quilliboeuf came in sight. 

" We can go no further with the tide," ex- 
claimed the Norman helmsman. " See, the 
river is even now overcoming the flood." 

" As thou wilt, Gaston," replied Master 
Roche ; " but, I pray thee, put us within easy 
reach of a hostel, since my throat is as dry as a 
limekiln." 

" The dii Guesclin Arms lieth but a bow-shot 
from the quay at Quilleboeuf," replied the 
Norman. " There the cider is of the best, 
and I wot Malmsey and sack are to be had, 
to say nought of the wines of France." 

" Then, I'll find my way to the dii Guesclin 
Arms/' quoth Master Roche, filled with plea- 
surable expectation. " Though I be a true 



44 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

Englishman, and must needs hate the name 
of yonder hostel, I'll not quarrel with its con- 
tents. How say you, comrades ; will you 
bear me company ? " 

Two of the merchants signified their accept- 
ance of his wishes, but the three lads chose to 
remain on the quay, watching the endless pro- 
cession of strange craft as they dropped down 
stream. 

Gaston skilfully brought the bac alongside 
the little quay, and, having secured her by two 
long and stout ropes, led the way to the inn, 
Arnold Gripwell, Roche, his fellow merchants, 
and the wearied rowers accompanying him. 

Left to themselves, the three lads sat down 
in the stern of the boat, discussing the unwonted 
sights as the ebb gathered strength. Now a 
cog, clumsily yet strongly built, drifted down, 
with only an occasional dip of a heavy oar to 
keep her on her course ; then a galley, re- 
splendent with paint and gilt, bearing a member 
of the household of King Charles the Sixth of 
France. Then a barge, laden with a towering 
cargo of ha}^ jostled with a frail cock-boat 
crowded with Norman peasants. 

All the while the turbid river swirled and 
eddied, for the heavy rains had swollen the 
Seine till it had burst its banks above Rouen 
and had flooded miles of fair country 'twixt that 
town and the city of Paris. 

Presently Gripwell returned, accompanied by 
the Norman helmsman and his crew. The latter 
sat listlessly on their thwarts, while the man-at- 
arms beguiled the lads during the hours of 



THE MERCHANTS AND LA BARRE 45 

waiting with stories of the past when the Eng- 
lish armies overran the greater part of France. 

Suddenly Gaston started to his feet ; a low 
distant roar, like the rumble of summer thunder, 
caught his well-trained ear. 

" Vite, vite, mes enfants ! '' he shouted. " La 
barre ! " 

Instantly the hitherto inactive rowers were 
transformed into alert and energetic seamen. 
The holding-ropes were cast off, the oars fell 
betwixt the thole-pins and the boat, driving 
her out towards the middle of the Seine. Yet, 
notwithstanding the men's efforts, the craft 
made no headway against the stream. 

"Why thus?" asked Oswald. ^' The tide 
is still against us, and, moreover, our friends 
still tarry at the inn." 

" Dost not hear the distamt roar ? " asked 
Gripwell. " 'Tis what men in these parts call 
the Mascaret or La Barre, though to English ears 
' bore ' sounds more familiar." 

Meanwhile all the other boats that were 
moored to the bank began to put off into mid- 
stream, their occupants joining in the warning 
cry. 

Geoffrey looked down stream, and a strange 
and awe-inspiring sight met his gaze. Stretch- 
ing from bank to bank came an enormous wave, 
eight or more feet in height. Its line was bent 
into the form of a crescent, the two shoreward 
extremities being in advance of the centre, and 
breaking furiously along the shore, to the 
accompaniment of an ever-increasing roar. 

While the Englishmen were looking with 



46 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

considerable apprehension at the progress of 
the bore, fully expecting that their craft would 
be engulfed in the wall of water, a shout from 
the bank caused them to glance shorewards. 

Master Roche and his three boon companions 
had left the inn and w^ere standing on the quay, 
unable to understand the cause of their fellow 
travellers' desertion. 

" Come back, robbers, come back," shouted 
the Southampton man. The approaching 
danger was disregarded or unnoticed in his 
excitement. 

Then, esp^dng a small boat hauled up the bank 
out of harm's wa}^ the angry merchants lustily 
dragged it to the water's edge. 

" Arretez, messieurs, pour ramGur de Notre 
Dame J' shouted the Norman helmsman, waving 
his free arm frantically b}^ way of warning. 

But the thick-headed Englishmen were not 
to be thwarted in their desire to regain the bac. 
The light craft was launched, and the four 
merchants awkwardly jumped into it. Fortu- 
nately, there were oars in the boat, and in a 
measure they were able to keep control over 
the frail cockleshell. More than that they could 
not do, and like a straw the boat was whisked 
down stream. 

The bore was within two hundred yards ere 
the merchants realized their danger. Terror 
seized them, and in a mad endeavour to escape 
they did the worst possible thing — they rowed 
desperately for the shore. 

Nothing could be done to save the inexperi- 
enced merchants from the impending disaster. 



THE MERCHANTS AND LA BARRE 47 

All the nerve and skill at the Norman's command 
was required to attend to the safety of the 
bac. 

A hurried order, and the boat was turned 
bows on to the approaching wave, while the 
rowers bent and strained at their oars to give the 
craft sufficient way to mount the watery wall. 

" Hold fast ! '' cautioned Gripwell to the 
lads. 

The next instant the boat's bows were lifted 
high in the air till the craft seemed to stand on 
end. With a sickening shudder the bac re- 
mained for a few seconds poised upon a quiver- 
ing, unstable pivot ; then the long craft slid 
down the other side of the mountainous wave 
into comparatively calm water. 

Anxiously Geoffrey and his comrades looked 
for their fellow-travellers. The little skiff, 
caught broadside on by the billow, had been 
rolled over and over, and was floating keel upper- 
most in the still ruffled water. Three of its 
late occupants were clinging to this slender 
support, while midway between the upturned 
boat and the shore the head of the unfortunate 
Master Roche was seen bobbing up and down. 

The merchant was a good swimmer, and 
breasted the stream right manfully, but it 
was a question whether he would reach the 
bank ere the arrival of the second wave, which 
usually follows the first at a distance of about 
two hundred yards. 

Quickly Gaston took in the state of affairs. 
The men clinging to the water-logged boat must 
first be rescued, and that quickly. 



48 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Ordering his men to pull easily he steered 
towards the hapless merchants. Two were 
quickly hauled in, but the work of rescuing 
the third, a heavily-built man, proved a harder 
task. 

Leaning far over the side, the Norman steers- 
man essayed to assist, but being jolted by 
one of his excitable fellow-countrymen, he 
overbalanced and fell headlong into the river. 

Waterman born and bred though he was, 
Gaston could not swim a stroke. Raising 
his hands despairingly above his head and 
uttering a yell of terror, he sank, whereupon, 
without a moment's hesitation, Geoffrey un- 
buckled his sword-belt and took a flying leap 
after him. 

But the lad had not counted the cost of his 
brave act. The terrified Norman gripped him 
round the neck in a vice-like grasp, while during 
the one brief moment that the English lad's 
head rose above the water he saw the second wave 
bearing down upon them. 

With irresistible fury the billow overwhelmed 
both the drowning man and his would-be rescuer. 
To Geoffrey it seemed as if he was buried 
fathoms deep in the icy-cold water, while his 
ears were well-nigh bursting under the pressure 
of the wave and the bulldog grip of the half- 
suffocated Norman. 

Just as the lad's breath and strength were 
failing his head appeared above water ; at the 
same time the grasp at his throat relaxed, 
and he was able to take in a full, deep draught 
of life-giving air. With a sudden jerk he freed 




*' IT DID NOT TAKE LONG FOR THE ENGLISHMEN TO GRASP THE SITUATION. 

[Page 53. 



THE MERCHANTS AND LA BARRE 49 

himself of the Norman's grip, and ere the man 
sank Geoffrey had him by the hair. 

But the coldness of the water and the effect 
of his almost superhuman efforts were beginning 
to tell. His strokes became feebler, his chin sank 
lower in the water, yet his hold on the Norman 
was not relaxed. Then, just as his strength 
failed, he was dimly conscious of a babel of 
English and Norman voices close above him ; 
eager hands grasped him by the shoulder, 
and as he and Gaston were dragged into safety 
he fell senseless upon the bottom of the 
boat. 

When Geoffrey came to himself the dreaded 
bore and its attendant dangers were past. 
The boat was progressing rapidly with the 
now favouring flood-tide. Master Roche and 
his companions, arrayed in a medley of borrowed 
garments, were sheltering from the strong wind 
in the little cabin, while Gaston, who had 
quickly recovered from the effect of his immer- 
sion, was at his customary post at the helm. 

Oswald, Richard Ratclyffe, Gripwell, and 
the English archers were gathered round the 
limp body of their brave comrade, and great 
was their joy when he revived. 

" Thou must needs lie quiet. Master Geoffrey/* 
exclaimed the old man-at-arms, as the lad 
attempted to raise himself on one elbow. " We 
need fear no more from the bore, for we are nigh 
to Villequier, where we can find shelter and 
refreshment at La Dame Doree. Certes ! What 
a story for the folks at Warblington.'' 

That night, after the bac had been safely 



50 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

moored, Gaston came up to the inn where 
Geoffrey was. 

" Young sir/' he exclaimed simply, " I thank 
thee for thy deed this day. Though I fear 'tis 
of little use to say it, bear in mind that if I, 
Gaston le Noir, can be of service to thee at any 
time, my dwelling is at La Broie, hard by the 
town of Harfleur." 

" Twas but a small matter," replied Geoffrey. 
*' Yet should it come to pass that I have need of 
thee, Gaston, I'll remember La Broie, hard by 
the town of Harfleur/' 



CHAPTER VI 

THE AFFRAY BY THE RIVER 

NEXT morning a dense fog hung over the 
valley of the Seine, so that it was im- 
possible to see across to the opposite bank. 
Nevertheless, the Englishmen were anxious 
to resume the journey, and, being assured by 
Gaston that he could steer the boat, even were 
the fog twice as thick, they embarked once 
more. 

Presently the sun became visible through the 
white wreathing vapour — a pale, watery-looking 
disc. Then a cold westerly breeze, insufficient 
to disperse the mist, sprang up, so that the 
Norman, eager to save the muscles of his men, 
ordered the sail to be set. I 

Above Villequier the windings of the river 
were not sufficient to necessitate windward 
work, so by merely trimming the sail as the 
course was altered the boat could pursue her 
onward way. 

Hardly a word was spoken. The fog seemed 
to affect the spirits both of the mercurial French- 
men and the more reticent Enghshmen, and in 
silence, save for an occasional order from the 
steersman as the sheets required attention, 
1 the party made rapid progress with wind and 
tide. 

fi 



52 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

" Yonder lies the Dos d'Ane," remarked 
Gaston, pointing to a distant hill. " Close 
under its shadow boats can shelter from la 
barre/' 

" I trow, master, we have had enough of 
this terrible bore,'' observ'ed Roche. " Certes ! 
Even now I have the taste of Seine water in 
my throat, in spite of a good stoup of sack." 

" Not one good stoup only, gossip," coiTected 
one of his companions. 

" As thou wilt, Thomas ; but I pra}^ three, ere 
thou wouldst " 

Master Roche's words were interrupted b}' a 
low " hist " from the steersman. 

" 'Tis but the cry of a bittern," remarked 
Ratclyffe. 

" Ma foi ! If thou canst hken yonder sound 
to a bird's call thou hast no right to wear 
sword," retorted Gripwell, excitement outweigh- 
ing his deference. " E'en though the \\ind 
bloweth away from us, I can make out the clash 
of arms and the shouts of the combatants. 
Now, am I not right ? " he continued, as a lull 
in the breeze enabled the Englishmen to hear 
the subdued clatter of a distant encounter. 

" Steer towards the bank, Gaston," ex- 
claimed Geoffre3\ " Perchance we can be of 
some shght service to those in the right." 

" Certes ! I care not which be in the right 
or WTong," added Gripwell, for the old war- 
dog had scented the battle from afar. '' Give 
me room for sword-pla}^ on the weaker side, 
and that ^^ill suffice. How say you, Master 
Roche ? " 



THE AFFRAY BY THE RIVER 53 

" I and my fellow merchants are men of 
peace," replied Roche sturdily. " But if we can 
be of service we'll follow thee." 

So saying, the Southampton man dived into 
the cabin, reappearing with a sheaf of swords, 
which he distributed amongst his companions. 

By this time the boat was nearing the bank, 
and above the clash of arms and the oaths 
and exclamations of pain and anger rose the 
shrill shriek of a woman. 

" Fall on, comrades ! " shouted Grip well, as 
the bows of the craft slid gently against the rush- 
lined bank, and with an agility that was sur- 
prising for his years the man-at-arms leapt ashore 
brandishing a long two-handed sword. 

Geoffrey, Oswald, and Ratclyffe hastened 
after him, the four merchants and the three 
archers vicing with each other in their haste to 
follow him to the scene of the encounter. 

The fog had cleared sufficiently for Geoffrey 
and his comrades to discern a confused throng 
of combatants at a little distance from the bank, 
where a road ran parallel with the river. 

It did not take long for the Englishmen to 
grasp the situation. Standing shoulder to 
shoulder, with brandished spear and sword, 
were six or seven men. Sheltering behind them 
was a woman, but whether young or old the new- 
comers could not tell, since she was in a huddled 
posture, with her head covered by her coif. 

Surrounding the little band swarmed a score 
or more of repulsive-looking ruffians, armed 
similarly to their opponents. Men had fallen 
on both sides, while two horses, one dead, the 



54 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

other hamstrung, added to the carnage. At a 
distance of twenty paces along the road two of 
the villainous rogues were holding an elderly 
woman, and it was she who was giving vent 
to the piercing cries that the Englishmen had 
heard as they sped towards the shore. 

There was no mistaking the situation. The 
ladies and their armed attendants had been as- 
sailed by a stronger and more numerous band — 
either the servants of some turbulent and ras- 
cally baron or a party of men acting for their 
own profit, for armed robbers swarmed on 
French soil during the troublous feud betwixt 
the Orleanist and Burgundian factions. 

Even the timely arrival of the Enghshmen 
did not have the effect of causing the assailants 
to beat a hasty retreat. Instead they held 
their ground, striving by a supreme effort to 
beat down the slender ring of steel that sur- 
rounded the crouching figure in the centre. 

In an instant Arnold Gripwell had launched 
himself into the thickest of the press. The long 
two-handed sword flashed, sweeping and thrust- 
ing with the skill and force of long usage. 

Nor were the three lads backward in their 
efforts. The young heir of Warbhngton, carried 
away by the heat of the fight — even though 
'twas the first time he had crossed steel in action 
— found himself confronted by a tall, lithe rascal 
clad in a padded leather coat and flowing gabar- 
dine, and armed with a short, heavy sword. 

Avoiding a pow^erful downward cut, Geoffrey 
sprang lightly aside, his antagonist's blade 
missing his left shoulder by a hair's breadth. 



THE AFFRAY BY THE RIVER 55 

With a swift lunge the lad wounded his foe 
in the neck, but was almost immediately re- 
paid by a cut that, falling short, gashed his 
face. 

Ere the man could recover himself Geoffrey's 
blade sped home, and at the same time Oswald 
succeeded in cutting down his opponent. 

Of what happened during the next few minutes 
Sir Oliver's son had but a confused knowledge ; 
but the rogues had suffered severely, and al- 
ready most of them who were uninjured were 
seeking safety in flight. 

Of the two men who guarded the elder 
woman, one had taken to his heels, but the 
other, pushing his captive in front of him, 
stood, crossbow to shoulder, seeking to cover his 
comrade's flight. 

Stung to fury by his wound, Geoffrey 
cast all discretion to the winds. Calling Oswald 
to follow him, he dashed towards the cross- 
bowman, heedless of the menacing weapon that 
was aimed full at his body, though he was pro- 
tected neither by shield nor breastplate. 

The woman saw the danger to which her 
would-be rescuer was exposed, and, adroitly 
slipping to the ground, she drew a small dagger 
and plunged it to the hilt into her captor's 
side. With a yell of pain the man dropped 
his cross-bow, pressed his hand to his wound, 
and turned to flee. But Geoffrey's blade swung 
through the air, and with a shriek the robber fell 
dead. 

That terminated the fight. Nine of the 
robbers and four of their opponents had been 



56 UNDER KING HEXRY^S BANNERS 

slain, while four on each side had been grievously 
wounded, including one of the English archers, 
who was already d}'ing. 

Meanwhile Oswald had assisted the elder lady 
to rise. 

" By St. Denis ! " she exclaimed. " To 
think that my silver dagger should be sulHed 
by the blood of a base routier. But I am for- 
getting. I have to thank thee, sir, and thy 
comrades for this timely assistance. I trust thou 
art a gentleman of coat armour ? " 

Oswald hastened to assure the haughty dame 
that both he and his two friends were of noble 
birth. 

" The saints be praised ! " was the lad3''s 
remark. " It would ill-become the ^^ife of 
Sir Raoul d'Aulx, seigneur of Maissons, to be 
beholden to bourgeois or villein." 

Geoffrey felt tempted to point out that 'twas 
with the aid of the merchants and the common 
archers that the affair had been decided, but 
the announcement of the lady's title completely 
took him by surprise. 

" Certes ! " he exclaimed. " This is passing 
strange. It is to Sir Raoul d'Aulx that my 
companion here, Richard Ratclyffe, squire to Sir 
Thomas Carberry, Governor of Portchester Cas- 
tle, doth bear a letter from his lord." 

" Then perchance thou canst do us a further 
service," repHed Lad}^ d'Aulx. " Since our 
horses are done for and many of our men have 
fallen, it may be possible for us to journey 
to Rouen together." 

" Our boat, though inconveniently crowded, 



THE AFFRAY BY THE RIVER 57 

is at thy service, madame," said Roche, who 
was busily engaged in completing the binding of 
a shght cut on his wrist. 

" Boat, quotha ! I like not this mode of 
travelling ; yet 'tis better than nothing at all. 
But, sir, thy name and rank ? " 

The Southampton merchant quailed beneath 
the imperious glance of the haughty French 
woman. Shuffling his feet uneasily, he tried 
to make reply. 

" My worthy friend hath ever been bashful 
in the presence of beauty," explained Ratclyffe 
with courtier-like quickness. " He bears the 
name of Sir Paul Roche, of Lucre Castle, hard by 
the town of Southampton.'' 

" Greetings, Sir Paul," exclaimed Sir Raoul's 
wife, as the pseudo-knight gallantly kissed her 
hand. " But 'tis to no purpose to dally here. 
Aimee, my belle, come hither ; it is to these 
honourable cavaliers that we owe our preserva- 
tion." 

Aimee d'Aulx, Sir Raoul's only daughter, 
was a tall, graceful maiden of about thirteen 
years of age, with dark chestnut tresses and a 
wondrous clear complexion. She had now com- 
pletely recovered from her fright, and Geoffrey 
especially could not help noticing her beauty. 
While possessing a certain sense of dignity, 
she lacked the haughty mien of her mother, 
and unaffectedly she presented her hand to be 
saluted by Geoffrey and his companions, includ- 
ing " Sir Paul," who, having regained his com- 
posure, seemed not a Httle tickled by his newly- 
acquired position. 



58 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

Arnold Gripwell had meanwhile given the 
archers orders to dispatch the wounded robbers, 
according to the custom of the Middle Ages, 
when human life was cheaply esteemed in the 
case of common men who were unable to pay 
ransom. 

" I pray thee examine yonder rogue," said 
the Lady d'Aulx, pointing to the corpse of the 
cross-bowman who had held her captive. " Me- 
thinks he was the leader of the rabble, yet I trow 
he is no base-born serf." 

The old man-at-arms strode over to the spot 
where the dead ruffian lay, and with a kick turned 
the body over on its back. 

" See here, Master Geoffrey," he shouted. '' V 
faith, though thou wert reckless enow in rush- 
ing in upon a levelled cross-bow,the rogue was but 
playing a trick. See, here is the string still 
notched, but no sign of a quarrel." 

" Then he was a brave man to cover his com- 
rade's retreat with a boltless bow," replied the lad. 

'' And thou equally brave, not knowing that 
thy life was saved by this man being without 
a shaft," added Gripwell. 

" By St. George, what have we here ? " he 
continued, tearing aside the dead man's cloak 
and disclosing a small device upon the left 
breast of his doublet. " A red axe upon a field 
of murrey. Dost know this cognizance, Master 
Geoffrey ? " 

" Nay, forsooth," replied the lad. 

" Then I trust that thou wilt ever see it in 
the dust. 'Tis the coat of Yves, Lord of Male- 
vereux." 



THE AFFRAY BY THE RIVER 59 

" Surely this is not the corpse of the man 
who holds my father captive ? " 

" Nay, young sir ; the Lord of Malevereux is 
great in stature and inclined to stoutness. 
Moreover, 'tis unreasonable to suppose that 
he would lead in person a band of churlish cut- 
throats such as these. Without doubt they are 
of the household of Malevereux." 

" Of Malevereux ? " exclaimed the Lady 
d'Aulx. " Then I do perceive how matters stand. 
This base-born Yves knew that I was journeying 
'twixt Harfleur and Rouen, and doubtless 
thought to hold me to ransom. My faith, if Sir 
Raoul doth not bring him to book for this, may I 
never break bread again." 

" 'Tis to this purpose that I am sent to the 
Castle of Maissons, madame," said Ratclyffe. 
" So that they of Taillemartel should join forces 
with the garrison of Maissons 'gainst this vil- 
lainous Yves." 

" Young squire, in the name of Sir Raoul 
d'Aulx I shall welcome thee and thine to Mais- 
sons, yet methinks that this matter concerning 
the combining of the two garrisons must wait, 
seeing that Sir Raoul hath been called to Paris 
by his Sovereign." 

"When will he return, fair lady?" asked 
Geoffrey anxiously. 

" Nay, that I cannot say ; but rest assured, 
young sir, that thine anxiety concerning the 
chastisement of the Lord of Malevereux is not 
greater than mine." 

The Englishmen and the party they had 
succoured embarked upon the boat, and the 



6o UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

journey up stream was resumed. Ere sunset 
on the following day the city of Rouen was 
reached, and Gaston was dismissed with liberal 
payment. 

Here, after a night's rest, the travellers dis- 
persed. Paul Roche and his fellow merchants 
addressed themselves to the disposal of their 
wares ; the Lady d'Aulx and her attendants, 
accompanied by Richard Ratclyffe, set out on 
the road to Maissons ; while Geoffrey, Oswald, 
and Arnold Grip well, with the two surviving 
archers, took horse and were soon speeding 
on their way to Taillemartel. 



CHAPTER VII 

HOW GEOFFREY CAME TO TAILLEMARTEL 

A FEW leagues from the city of Rouen 
Geoffrey and his companions began to 
come across evidences of the fearful struggle 
'twixt Burgundians and Orleanists. 

Here would be seen a" Burgundian mitre " — 
the scorched and blackened gables of a partially 
demolished cottage ; there the corpse of some 
unfortunate peasant dangling from the withered 
branch of a tree. Ever the air reeked of char- 
coal and of the fetid odours emanating from 
carcases of unburied cattle ; for the marauders 
ruthlessly slew every four-footed creature that 
they were unable to drive off to their embattled 
retreats. 

Utmost caution had to be exercised by the 
English travellers, since they were not strong 
enough to hope to successfully repel the attacks 
of any but the smaller bands of freebooters. 
Twice they were compelled to take refuge in 
friendly woods. Once a detour of three leagues 
was necessary, owing to the approach of suspi- 
cious parties of horsemen, so that the sun had 
set ere Geoffrey arrived at the portals of his 
father's Norman castle. 

In the gloom the lad could distinguish the 
outlines of two massive circular twin towers 

61 



62 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

connected by a battlemented wall, pierced by a 
lofty gateway concealed by the raised draw- 
bridge. On either side of the towers the wall 
ran for a distance of about fifty yards till it 
joined another circular though smaller tower 
forming the angle of the fortified work. Within, 
the summit of a square keep was just visible 
above the battlements. Barbican or outwork 
there was none, but a deep moat surrounded the 
castle. 

" What think ye of Taillemartel ? " asked 
Gripwell as the cavalcade reined in their steeds 
at the edge of the moat. 

" Tis a noble pile, Arnold," replied Geoffrey, 
" though not so large as Warblington, I trow. 
But how " 

Geoffrey's w^ords were interrupted by a hoarse 
shout from the battlements, and a sentinel de- 
manded the names and errand of the new- 
comers. 

'' They keep good ward," remarked Oswald, 
as one of the English archers who was about 
to sound a tucket thrust his trumpet behind 
him. 

" Ho, there ! Who comes ? " repeated the 
sentinel. 

" I would have speech with the seneschal," 
replied Gripwell. 

In a few minutes torches flickered behind 
the battlements, glittering on steel headpiece 
and breastplate ; then a voice exclaimed : 
" Here am I, Bertrand de Vaux, seneschal to my 
Lord Oliver Lysle. Who would have speech 
with me at this unseemly hour ? " 



GEOFFREY AT TAILLEMARTEL 63 

" Sir Oliver's son stands without, and would 
be admitted." 

" I wot not that Sir Oliver's son was coming 
hither/' replied the seneschal. " What proof 
have I that ye are not of Malevereux, or of 
Entrevilles, or of Faux ? " 

" A truce to thy stubbornness, Bertrand/' 
shouted Oswald. " Dost recognize my voice ? 
I am Oswald Steyning, Sir Oliver's squire." 

" A thousand pardons, monsieur. Now I 
know 'tis no trick or stratagem. Nevertheless, 
be it known that Sir Oliver's strict injunctions 
allow neither the gate nor the sally-port to be 
opened after sunset, save by virtue of his written 
order." 

" Doth that also apply to the drawbridge ? " 
asked Grip well. 

" Nay," replied the seneschal. *' That I will 
have lowered, but to what purpose ? " 

" Hast ever heard how the blessed St. Paul 
left the city of Damascus ? I pray thee lower 
ropes from the battlements if naught else will 
serve, and Til warrant that this night we'll 
slumber quietly within the walls of Taillemar- 
tel." 

To this suggestion there was no verbal re- 
sponse, but almost immediately the iron chains 
of the drawbridge creaked and clanked as the 
ponderous wooden structure fell slowly on its 
hinges. 

Meanwhile the two archers had tethered the 
horses of the party in a meadow hard by the 
moat. This done, Geoffrey and his companions 
crossed the drawbridge, to find three stout, 



64 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

noosed ropes dangling from the almost invisible 
heights above. 

Spinning round and round like a joint on a 
jack, Geofirey was drawn up, and in this some- 
what undignified manner he made his entry into 
his father's Norman home. 

Oswald and Gripwell follow^ed, the ropes being 
again lowered for the two archers, and soon 
the travellers found themselves standing on the 
battlements surrounded by the eighty men-at- 
arms and archers comprising the garrison of 
Taillemartel, but it was not until the letter 
bearing the Lady Bertha's signature and the 
seal of Warblington was produced and read 
that the seneschal led the round of cheering 
that greeted Sir Oliver's son. 

Bertrand de Vaux was a short, broad-should- 
ered, bull-necked Norman, of about forty years 
of age. Muscular strength was evinced by his 
frame, while his deep-set eyes and heavy 
square-cut chin denoted resolution and deter- 
mination akin to obstinacy. 

He was soberly attired in a close-fitting suit 
of green cloth slashed with red, while a silver 
belt, ornamented with the arms of the Lysles, 
encircled his waist. On his head he wore a 
velvet cap of maintenance ornamented by a 
silver clasp, also stamped with the turbot and 
the stars, while his feet were encased in untanned 
leather shoes, the toes of which terminated in 
long points that for convenience' sake were 
turned upwards and fastened to the wearer's 
calves by means of silver buckles. 

" I pray you bear me company to the ban- 



GEOFFREY AT TAILLEMARTEL 63 

queting-hall/' said the seneschal addressing 
Geoffrey and Oswald. " I doubt not that Taille- 
martel can still provide a repast fitting for Sir 
Oliver's son, e'en though Sir Oliver himself be 
not here to have the ordering of it." 

So saying, he led the way to the hall where 
the men-servants had already prepared a plenti- 
ful repast of cold venison, pheasants, long rolls 
of bread, and a copious supply of mead and 
wine. 

Arnold Gripwell had partaken himself to the 
quarters of the sous-officiers, while the archers 
had to content themselves with company of the 
Norman soldiery, but their slight knowledge 
of the foreign tongue was sufficient to enable 
them to carry on a conversation with their new 
comrades. 

" Hast heard or seen aught of Sir Yves of 
Malevereux ? " asked Geoffrey, as they were 
doing full duty towards the viands. 

" Of Sir Yves nothing ; of his following over- 
much. Thrice within the last fortnight have his 
men appeared within sight of Taillemartel. 
Yet though they did us no scath, they did not 
hesitate to mock at us. Ma foi, when they 
mentioned the name of Sir Oliver, and taunted 
us that we were children not to stir on his behalf 
'twas as much as I could do to keep my men in 
hand. Yet seeing that they of Malevereux 
were thrice as many, and that little or no good 
was to come of adventuring ourselves 'gainst 
them in the open, I kept our men within walls." 
" I trust that they have done no harm to the 
tenantry ? " 



66 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" Only to Pierre, the wood-cutter/' replied 
Bertram carelessly. " Poor fool, he would not 
take shelter within the castle as the rest have 
done, so they slew^ him on his own threshold — 
not before he had killed two of the villains." 

" Now that is good cheer," continued the 
seneschal, when Geoffrey had told him of the 
proposed alliance with Sir Raoul d'Aulx. " By 
St. Denis, with three hundred men-at-arms, 
archers, and cross-bowmen 'gainst it, Malevereux 

will assuredly fall. And then Ah, with Sir 

Oliver set free, and the plunder of two score 
years within our grasp, life will be worth 
living." 

On the morning following the arrival of the 
Englishmen at Taillemartel, Oswald Steyning 
set out to deliver the letter from the Lady Bertha 
to Sir Yves de Malevereux. 

In spite of the young squire's forebodings, 
he persevered in his determination of bearding 
the Tyrant in his den. Refusing to take any 
of the garrison as an escort, he bade farewell to 
Geoffrey and his friends, both Enghsh and 
Norman ; then, trusting to chance to avoid 
straggling parties of raiders (though the fact 
that he bore a letter addressed to the Tyrant 
might afford him safe conduct), he rode forth 
from the sheltering walls of Taillemartel. 

From that moment it seemed as if the earth 
had opened and swallowed up the bold and 
devoted squire of Sir Ohver Lysle. Day after 
day passed, yet Osw^ald did not return. Reluc- 
tantly Geoffrey had to admit that, unless some 
misadventure had befallen his friend on the 



GEOFFREY AT TAILLEMARTEL 67 

way, Sir Yves had been guilty of a gross breach 
of faith, and had made the young squire captive 
in the gloomy castle of Malevereux. 

For the next fifteen days following Oswald's 
departure nothing of interest occurred to break 
the ordinary routine observed at Taillemartel. 
Occasionally parties of horsemen, bearing Sir 
Yves' livery, would appear before the castle, 
but they wisely forbore from approaching within 
bow-shot. Nevertheless, Geoffrey had not been 
idle. Under Grip well's tutorage he studiously 
practised the use of the lance, sword and mace, 
or engaged in tourneys with blunted lances. 
Hard knocks were given and received with good 
grace, and day by day the heir of Warblington 
made rapid progress in the art of wa.r. 

At length Richard Ratclyffe arrived at the 
castle, his crestfallen face forewarning the garri- 
son of the failure of his mission. Sir Raoul had 
been summoned to Paris to attend upon the 
Dauphin, and for an apparently indefinite 
time the Castle of Maissons was to be shorn 
of its numerous soldiery, a bare thirty men-at- 
arms and cross-bowmen being left to hold 
the fortress during its lord's absence. 

" I can only return to my master. Sir Thomas 
Carberry, with assurances of Sir Raoul' s condo- 
lence," exclaimed Ratclyffe ruefully. " That 
is but cold comfort, yet 'tis better than nothing 
at all. But on the other hand, Geoffrey, there 
are great doings afoot. I heard, on the auth- 
ority of one of the French king's attendants, 
that our King Harry hath formally presented his 
claim to the throne of France. Failing an 



68 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

immediate compliance he vows that he will sub- 
mit his claim to the arbitrament of the sword." 

" 'Tis good news/' replied Geoffrey enthusias- 
tically, but the brow of the Norman seneschal 
clouded ominously. 

" France for the Frenchmen/' said he. ''So 
long as Sir Oliver holds Taillemartel as a fief 
of King Charles I am content. With Burgun- 
dian fighting Orleanist I am likewise content to 
side with the Duke of Burgundy. Should he 
think fit to make alliance with your King Henry 
'tis well ; but failing that, how can I, Bertrand 
de Vaux, stand aloof when English armies tread 
on French soil ? " 

" Have a care, sir, lest you fall betwixt two 
stools," exclaimed Ratclyfte. " 'Tis said that 
Burgundy favours King Henry's claim." 

" If that be so, I, too, am with him ; yet at 
heart I am a Frenchman." 

" Time will prove, good Bertrand. Meanwhile, 
concerning the matter in hand ; it is my purpose 
to journey homewards to-morrow, Geofeey, so if 
thou hast a message to send to Warblington I 
will be the bearer." 

' ' Since so little has been done towards setting 
free my father, I am at a loss what to say," re- 
plied Geoffrey, sadly. " But this : bear my 
mother my most dutiful expressions of regard, 
and tell her that by the blessing of God I am in 
good health. Also that I am striving to do my 
devoirs as a true Lysle." 

Late in the afternoon of the day following 
Ratclyffe's departure, a small cavalcade was 
observed to be rapidly approaching the castle. 



GEOFFREY AT TAILLEMARTEL 69 

The battlements were immediately manned, 
the gates shut, and the drawbridge raised, 
while speculation was rife as to the object of the 
new-comers. 

Without hesitation the little band rode fear- 
lessly up to the edge of the moat. There were 
but seven, all most magnificently mounted 
and accoutred, while their leader bore the 
French Royal arms upon his surcoat — the silver 
lilies upon an azure field. A horn was sounded, 
and admittance was demanded for a herald of 
King Charles of France. Upon this the draw- 
bridge was lowered, and the gates thrown 
open. 

" Welcome, Sir Jacques d'Erquai,'' exclaimed 
the seneschal, recognizing the new arrival as a 
distinguished knight of the French Court. 
" What is thy pleasure ? '' 

" I ask entertainment for me and mine this 
night, Bertrand. To-morrow we hasten to- 
wards Harfleur, for my royal master hath deigned 
to favour me. In sooth, I am ambassador- 
extraordinary to the King of England." 

That evening Sir Jacques was the guest at 
Taillemartel. During his stay he spoke but 
little concerning the nature of his mission. 
When, however, he had taken his departure, 
Arnold Gripwell approached the English lad, 
his face working with excitement. 

" Yesternight I lay low and said but little, 
though mine ears were as busy as a housewife's 
fingers. Certes, though I understand that this 
Sir Jacques d'Erquai kept a proper curb on his 
tongue, his varlets lacked common discretion. 



70 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

What, think ye, is the Dauphin's answer to our 
Sovereign Lord's demands ? " 

" Surely the Dauphin will not submit 
tamely?" suggested Geoffrey. 

" Of a surety he will not," continued the man- 
at-arms. " Not only hath he refused the king's 
conditions, but he hath gone further ; by the 
hand of Sir Jacques he hath sent an insulting 
message, together with a present." 

" The message ? " asked Geoffrey eagerly. 

" To fully understand the message 'tis neces- 
sary to know the nature of the present, young 
sir. In short, the Dauphin has sent a box of 
tennis balls with the message that King Harry 
would do better to find amusement with them 
rather than present a claim to the crown of 
France." 

" After that there can be but one issue/' 
remarked Geoffrey. 

" Ay — war," was Gripwell's curt response. 



CHAPTER VIII 

OF THE AMBUSH LAID BY THE MEN OF TAILLE- 
MARTEL 

SLOWLY the months sped, yet towards taking 
any definite steps to secure his father's 
release Geoffrey could do little or nothing. 

The realization of his two great hopes — the 
return of Sir Raoul from the French capital, and 
the expected invasion by King Henry — seemed 
too uncertain. The feast of St. Silvester — a 
critical time in the affairs of Sir Oliver Lysle — 
was now but a few days off, and, as the rapidly 
dwindling interval appreciably diminished, 
the need for action on the part of his son became 
more and more urgent. 

Early one morning in June a horseman rode 
with loose rein up to the castle with the news of 
the approach of a strong body of mounted men 
from Malevereux, and that the invaders' inten- 
tion was undoubtedly to sack and plunder the 
village of Taillemartel, that, up to the present, 
had escaped the unwelcome attentions of the 
ruthless Sir Yves. Possibly its proximity to 
the castle had accounted for its immunity 
hitherto, but with the force at his command 
on this occasion the Lord of Malevereux doubt- 
less thought the opportunity had come to sack 
the village. 

71 



72 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" Now is the time to gain iionour and distinc- 
tion, young sir," quoth Grip well to his charge, 
as he hurried from the armoury with his harness 
but partly buckled, and a sheaf of weapons under 
his arm. " 'Tis not for me to give orders, 
but saving thy presence, I would suggest that 
we take steps to thwart these rogues of Male- 
vereux. Though they be the stronger party 
I have but little doubt that by stratagem we may 
worst them." 

" How so, Arnold ? " asked Geoffrey. 

" Thus," was the reply, and the man-at-arms 
proceeded to unfold a carefully prepared plan 
of action. 

Geoffrey and the seneschal expressed their 
unstinted admiration of Gripwell's proposal, 
and without a moment's hesitation the plan was 
put into execution. 

Leaving but ten men to guard the castle 
Geoffrey led the rest of the garrison to the 
village, which lay but two bow-shots from the 
walls of Taillemartel. Here the soldiers pro- 
ceeded to occup}^ the cottages on either side of the 
only road that passed through the little village, 
while outposts were placed with instructions 
to hasten back to the main bod}' without being 
perceived, on the first sign of the approach of 
the enemy. 

Already the terrified peasants were busily 
engaged in removing such of their scanty goods 
and chattels that were capable of being easily 
carried away, while the womenfolk and children 
were streaming in a disorderly mob along the 
dusty road leading to the castle. 



THE AMBUSH 73 

" Bid those villeins stop, young sir/' ex- 
claimed Gripwell, pointing with his sword to- 
wards the mob of villagers. " They do but 
hinder our work of making good the defences." 

Calmly Geoffrey w^alked across to where the 
peasants were, the seneschal accompanying him. 
Like the rest of their men the}^ were unmounted, 
so that the risk of being seen by the enemy was 
considerably reduced. 

" Listen, men," exclaimed Sir Oliver's son in 
the Norman patois, for, like most of the knights 
and squires of that period, he could speak the 
French tongue. " Listen, men, and if ye be 
worthy of the name, I pray you desist from 
this work of removing your goods. Is it not 
better to have a thatch over your heads than a 
few sorry remnants of your belongings without 
a cottage wherein to store them ? We are here, 
by God's help, to protect 3^ou from the rogues of 
Malevereux. Were it otherwise 'twould have 
been more profitable to remain within the walls 
of Taillemartel and let the village take its 
chance. 

" Now," he went on, " this is my pleasure ; 
let all those who have any regard for their own 
skins and faith in the protecting arm of their 
over-lord — let these stand firm and assist in 
the defence of their hearths and homes. Those 
who are not so disposed, let them hasten behind 
the walls of Taillemartel — but, be it understood, 
not a stick of their goods must be borne hence." 

Of the three-score male inhabitants only four 
took advantage of Geoffrey's offer to gain the 
shelter of the castle, and, amid the hooting and 



74 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

hissing of their fellows, and the rude jibes of 
the soldiers, they slunk sheepishly away. 

Those of the peasants who stood firm were 
ordered to drag their wagons and ploughs 
to the end of the village street nearer the castle, 
and to pile them in a rough breastwork that was 
practically impassable by mounted men. 

Eagerly the villagers obeyed. Fired by the 
ardour of their young seigneur they gained 
both strength and resolution, so that in a very 
short space of time the crowd of demoralized 
peasants was changed into a band of determined 
and comparatively disciphned men. 

" Now get you gone to your houses," con- 
tinued Geoffrey, speaking according to Grip- 
well's suggestions. " Arm yourselves with 
scythes, flails, clubs, or any other weapon 
ye may have to hand. Moreover, lay in a 
supply of stones, but, on pain of severe punish- 
ment, let no man stir or show himself until he 
hears a trumpet blown." 

In a wonderfully short time the village street 
was almost deserted, for the men-at-arms, archers 
and cross-bowmen had already taken up their 
quarters within the houses. Only Geoffrey, 
Gripwell, the seneschal, and a few archers 
remained without. Venturing to the further- 
most end of the village they awaited the arrival 
of the outposts with news of the approach of 
the men of Malevereux. 

They had not long to wait. Wellnigh breath- 
less, with his arms pressed closely to his sides, 
a lightly-clad archer ran. towards the village, 
taking advantage of every depression in the 



THE AMBUSH 75 

ground that might serve to hide him from the 
foe. Close behind him ran another, and, a 
bow-shot in the rear, a third. All bore the 
same tidings. A body of mounted men, esti- 
mated at nearly two hundred, and led by Sir 
Yves in person, was even now within a league of 
the village. 

" Sir Yves, himself ! '' ejaculated Grip well. 
" Certes, if we cannot bring him to earth, may 
I never see Warblington again. Pass the word, 
Florestan,'' he continued, addressing an archer, 
" that one cross-bowman in each house reserve 
his quarrel especially for the Tyrant of Male- 
vereux. A crown for the man who brings him 
down." 

As the archer ran to communicate the order 
the man-at-arms turned to Geoffrey : " Tis 
time that we took cover, young sir. Be of good 
heart, for FU warrant that these wolves will 
turn tail and make off faster than they came. 
My place is by the side of my master's son. 
But above all things take heed that not a bow 
be loosed nor a stone thrown till the tucket 
sounds." 

Barely had the defenders retired to their 
rude defences ere the followers of Sir Yves 
appeared ; for, deeming the village an easy 
prey, they had ridden furiously upon it to plun- 
der and kill. 

Fortunately for Gripwell's plan the cottages 
standing more remote from the castle were 
meaner than those in the middle of the village. 
This fact was evidently known to the men of 
Malevereux, for, without waiting to despoil 



76 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

the poorer houses, they passed on towards 
that part of the hamlet where most plunder was 
likely to be obtained. 

In the van, composed of mounted men-at-arms, 
clad in quilted coats, breastplates and iron 
caps, rode a person of quality, for he was armed 
cap-a-pied in steel, and bore a shield with the 
device the red axe. Previous to entering the 
village he had closed his visor, so that his features 
were not visible. 

" Is 3^on knight the T^^-rant Sir Yves ? " 

" Without a doubt,'' replied Grip well in an 
undertone. " But 'tis ill that such a gap divides 
two companies ; the van will have reached the 
barricade ere the rear-guard rides fairly into the 
trap." 

" Who, then, is this ? " continued the lad, 
as a short, broad-shouldered man passed at the 
head of the rear-guard. 

The leader of the second company was clad 
in a complete suit of chain armour, similar 
to that in vogue two centuries before, but 
with the addition of a steel breastplate, gorget, 
tassets, and sollerets. His hands were encased 
with brazen gauntlets, the backs of which were 
composed of thin overlapping plates studded 
with knots of steel. On his head he wore a 
steel bascinet with a beaklike visor, but the 
latter had been thrown back, disclosing a dark, 
cruel-looking face, partially hidden by a heavy 
beard and moustache. 

Geoffrey repeated the question, for this 
knight's device was very similar to the first's. 

" It can be none other than Sir Yves' brother, 



THE AMBUSH 77 

Sir Denis. I see that his shield shows that he 
is his brother's cadet. But stand to it ; the 
time is at hand. Peter, sound a rousing tucket, 
I pray thee ! " 

Thus ordered, one of the Enghsh archers blew 
a shrill blast upon his horn, and the next moment 
volleys of arrows, bolts and stones whistled 
through the air. The close array of mounted 
men was transformed into a shouting, panic- 
stricken, struggling mob. Many fell, dead or 
wounded, the plunging, terrified horses adding 
to the tumult. Here and there, men braver 
and cooler than their fellows stood at bay or 
attempted to force their way into the houses 
that sheltered their assailants. 

Three cross-bowmen had made Sir Denis 
their particular mark, but, doubtless carried 
away by their excitement, their aim was faulty. 
One bolt shattered itself against the knight's 
steel breastplate, another glanced from his 
helmet, while the third missed entirely. 

Closing his visor, Sir Denis slipped from his 
horse and, mace in hand, strode towards the 
door of the nearest cottage. In vain quarrels 
and stones rattled against his armour of proof, 
and, like a man bearing a charmed life, he con- 
tinued his advance. 

" Make good the door 'gainst him," shouted 
Grip well to the two English archers. As he 
spoke a thunderous blow of the Norman's 
mace burst in the upper part of the door. 

Peter, the archer who had given the signal 
for the onslaught,! immediately delivered a 
spear-thrust ; but the knight, with a sweep 



78 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

of his ponderous weapon, shattered the head of 
the spear from the haft. Quick to take advan- 
tage, the archer grasped the end of the mace, 
and a fierce struggle ensued. 

Sir Denis' mace was secured to his wrist 
by a chain, so that even had he quitted his hold 
the weapon would still be attached to his person, 
yet he had no intention of so doing. 

Swaying to and fro on either side of the parti- 
ally demolished door, archer and knight strove 
for mastery. Both were powerful men, and 
both equally determined to gain possession 
of the mace. At one time the mailed casque 
and shoulders of the Norman would be dragged 
through the irregular aperture ; at another 
the Enghshman was sore put to prevent himself 
being hauled from his retreat. Nor could his 
comrades give him assistance by laying hold 
of the knight's weapon ; all they could do 
was to rain powerful, yet futile, blows upon the 
armour of the struggling foeman. 

Meanwhile Gripwell, after giving the archer 
instructions to hold the doorway, had darted 
to the inner room, where a pail of charcoal, 
intended by its late owner for cooking purposes, 
glowered darkly on the floor. 

Seizing the portable fire with his gauntleted 
hands, the man-at-arms bore it into the other 
room, where, awaiting his opportunity, he 
dashed its contents into the visored face of the 
Norman knight. 

Some of the particles of the red-hot charcoal 
passed through the narrow slits in Sir Denis' 
bascinet. Nearly blinded by the pain the 



THE AMBUSH 79 

knight relinquished his hold on the mace 
and involuntarily attempted to raise his arms 
to protect his face. The sudden release of 
the object of their contentions caused the 
archer to reel backwards, till the strain on 
the chain pulled the knight's arm towards the 
doorway. 

With a shout of triumph, Gripwell also 
seized the mace, and archer and man-at-arms 
united their efforts to pin their formidable 
antagonist to the woodwork by the strain 
upon the chain. 

" Yield thee, Sir Knight," thundered Arnold. 
" Methinks thou art a good bond for the safety 
of my master. Sir Oliver." 

As he spoke Sir Denis gave a powerful heave, 
the chain snapped asunder, and the two English- 
men fell heavily on the floor. The Frenchman 
reeled backwards a good five paces ere he, too, 
came to earth. 

Unable to rise, by reason of the weight of 
his armour, he lay helpless, groaning with the 
effect of the red-hot embers. 

" We'll have him anon," cried the man-at- 
arms, struggling to his feet. " Look to yon 
window." 

The warning came barely in time. During 
the struggle at the doorway a score of men 
from Malevereux had assailed the window, 
which Geoffrey, sword in hand, was defending 
by the aid of two archers of the garrison of 
Taillemartel and three peasants. 

Already one of the latter was down, slain 
by a quarrel shot at close range, while one of 



8o UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the archers was severely wounded by a blow 
from a " morning star." 

The arrival of Gripwell and the two English 
archers soon turned the scale. While the man- 
at-arms dealt irresistible blows with his heavy 
axe, the archers shot fast and true, and in a 
short space the band of assailants seemed to 
melt away. 

'' We hold our own everywhere," said Arnold, 
leaning out of the window during the brief 
respite. 

The man-at-arms spoke truly. With one 
exception every house had made good its de- 
fence, and already the demoralized men of 
Malevereux — those who had not been slain or 
grievously wounded — were seeking safety in 
flight. 

At one place, almost in the centre of the 
village, the noise of conflict was still to be heard. 
Ordering the cross-bowmen from the houses, 
Geoffrey gave instructions to form up at the 
furthermost end of the village, so as to repel 
the enemy should they return to the attack, and 
also to cut off the retreat of any of the remaining 
men of Malevereux should they attempt to 
escape. 

This done, Geoffrey, accompanied by Grip- 
well and several archers and men-at-arms, made 
his way through the corpse-encumbered 
street to where the struggle was still main- 
tained. 

" We have him safe enough, fair sir," ex- 
claimed a bowman, pausing in the act of re- 
plenishing his quiver with arrows that were 



THE AMBUSH 8i 

everywhere feathering the ground. " The 
Tyrant is cornered in yonder house." 

The Knight of the Blood-red Axe had had his 
horse shot under him early in the fight. Basely 
deserted by his panic-stricken followers, he 
found his retreat cut off by the infuriated 
defenders. For a space he kept his foes at bay, 
a ring of dead and wounded men surrounding 
him as he fought. Wounded in several places 
till the blood oozed from the joints of his 
armour, the knight made a sudden rush to- 
wards a deserted cottage. 

Here he made a stand, bringing down the 
seneschal of Taillemartel by a sweeping cut with 
his sword, till, borne back by w^eight of numbers, 
he took shelter in one of the rooms. 

" Leave him to me," shouted Geoffrey authori- 
tatively, as he forced his way 'twixt the crowd 
of soldiery. 

" Nay, thou'rt foolhardy," objected Gripwell, 
laying a detaining hand on the shoulder of his 
charge. " Let the men have their way with 
the rogue ; he is unworthy to be treated as a 
gentleman of coat-armour." 

" Forbear to hinder me ; my purpose is 
fixed," replied Geoffrey stoutly, and, sword in 
hand, he rushed into the room where the knight 
stood, back to the wall, three writhing bodies 
on the floor testifying to his prowess as a 
swordsman. 

'' Yield thee, Sir Knight," exclaimed Geoffrey. 
" I promise thee quarter." 

'' Give quarter to those who ask it," was the 
reply. " I surrender to no man." 



82 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

The next instant their blades crossed. Both 
combatants were equally matched. The Eng- 
lish lad lacked the size and weight of his anta- 
gonist ; but, with the exception of a slight 
wound received earlier in the fight, Geoffrey w^as 
comparatively fresh, while the knight had 
already borne the brunt of a prolonged encounter 
against enormous odds. 

On his part Geoffrey strove, by means of a 
succession of rapid passes, to find a joint of 
his antagonist's armour ; while the Frenchman, 
mustering all the strength at his command, 
relied mainly upon his powerful sweeping 
cuts to disable his youthful and active 
foe. 

At length the Englishman wounded his enemy 
by a lightning-like thrust that took effect 'twixt 
the flexible plates of the Frenchman's gauntlet. 
But Geoffrey had to pay for his advantage. 
With a roar like the bellowing of a bull the 
knight shortened his sword, and ere the lad 
could recover his blade the steel was snapped 
asunder a span's length from the hilt. 

The Frenchman was not slow to take advan- 
tage of his enemy's misfortune. Swish! came 
his heavy weapon. Geoffrey's fragment of 
steel could not stop the cut, though it deflected 
the sword-cut, and, receiving the blade full 
in his gorget, the lad was sent staggering across 
the room. 

The knight could not forbear from following 
up his stroke. Unwisely he left his point of 
vantage by the wall, and, whirling his sword, 
prepared to deal a coup de grace. 



THE AMBUSH 83 

In his excitement he forgot the low beam that 
ran athwart the ceiling, and ere the stroke could 
be completed his sword encountered the rafter, 
sinking in so deeply that he was unable to ex- 
tricate his weapon. 

Already a dozen men-at-arms were about to 
intervene, when Geoffrey threw himiself boldly 
upon his antagonist. 

With a resounding crash the two mail-clad 
bodies fell upon the floor, the English lad upper- 
most. The point of his dagger was at the slit 
of his antagonist's visor, and the knight was at 
Geoffrey's mercy. 

" Yield thee, Sir Knight.'^ 

This time the Frenchman thought ere he 
declined the proffered condition. 

" Thou art of noble blood ? " he asked. '' If 
not, slay me." 

" I am the son of Sir Oliver Lysle, whom 
thou " 

" Then I surrender myself," replied the knight, 
without waiting for further explanation. 

Breathlessly Geoffrey leaned upon the shoul- 
der of one of the archers, while Grip well 
and one or two others proceeded to cut the 
laces of the Frenchman's bascinet. 

When at length the vanquished man was 
unhelmed a cry of astonishment arose from the 
onlookers. 

Instead of the cruel, debased features of Sir 
Yves of Malevereux the face of a young man of 
about twenty years of age greeted the eyes of 
the men of Taillemartel. 

" Who art thou, young sir ? " demanded 



84 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Geoffrey. " Methought I had captured the 
Tyrant of Malevereux." 

" I am Henri, son of him whom thou hast 
named the Tyrant/' was the reply. 



CHAPTER IX 

CONCERNING Geoffrey's desperate resolve 

" nr^HOUGH we have not Sir Yves in our 
X hands, we have not fared badty/' said 
Arnold Gripwell, as they hurried off to muster 
the men of Taillemartel, leaving the son of Sir 
Yves in the charge of a party of archers. " With 
Sir Denis and this Henri as our captives we 
ought to bring the Lord of Malevereux to his 
senses." 

" He will scarce dare to carry out his threat 
now," replied Geoffrey. " No doubt he will be 
willing to effect an exchange of prisoners. But 
what have they done with Sir Denis ? " 

The man-at-arms and his charge had reached 
the scene of the encounter with the brother of 
Sir Yves, but the helpless steel-clad body of Sir 
Denis was nowhere to be seen. 

" Perchance some of our men have him in safe 
keeping," observed Gripwell. " I pray thee 
summon our soldiers that we may question 
them on this matter." 

In response to a trumpet call the garrison of 
Taillemartel formed up in the village street, 
wearied yet triumphant. The defence and 
subsequent rout of the invaders had not been 
accomphshed without severe loss. Eleven men 

85 



86 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

had been killed, and over a score grievously 
wounded, including Bertrand de Vaux, the 
seneschal ; while nearly every other man-at- 
arms and archer had received some slight injury. 
Of the peasants but three had been killed and 
ten wounded, for they had mainly contented 
themselves by hurling stones from a safe distance. 

Careful inquiries failed to throw any light on 
the fate of Sir Denis. Unnoticed by the de- 
fenders, his varlet, with praiseworthy devotion, 
had dragged the hapless knight from the fray, 
and, assisting him to a horse, had provided him 
with the means of flight. 

Great was Geoffrey's disappointment at the 
escape of Sir Denis, but, consoling himself with 
the fact that the only son of Sir Yves was a 
prisoner in his hands, he led his men back to the 
Castle of Taillemartel. 

Some of the bolder spirits were for setting off 
in immediate pursuit of the remnants of the 
invading forces, while the investment of Male- 
vereux was seriously discussed. But Grip well 
knew that the slender garrison of Taillemartel 
was quite insufficient to hope to reduce the 
formidable defences of Sir Yves' stronghold. 
More prudent measures must be taken if Sir 
Oliver were to regain his freedom. 

Accordingly one of the prisoners was liberated 
and given a letter to his master in which the 
news of his son's capture was made known. 
Geoffrey also expressed therein his willingness 
to hand Henri over to his father should Sir 
Yves set Sir Oliver and his squire Oswald at 
liberty, without further delay. 



GEOFFREY'S DESPERATE RESOLVE 87 

Three days later a curt message was received 
from the Tyrant of Malevereux. 

" Do as thou wilt with my son," he wrote. 
'' Since he hath been fool enough to fall into 
thy hands, let him shift for himself. But rest 
assured concerning the oath I swore relating to 
Sir Oliver, not one jot nor one tittle will I abate 
in fulfilment of it." 

" Here is a fine ado," quoth Grip well. " 'Tis 
certain this base villain hath no more regard for 
his son than for the veriest cur in his ken- 
nels." 

" Perchance this Henri will offer ransom," 
suggested Geoffrey doubtfully. 

" We can but try him. Methinks that with 
all the treasure stored within the walls of Male- 
vereux 'twould be passing strange if this prisoner 
of ours hath not command of ten thousand 
crowns." 

Accordingly Geoffrey and the men-at-arms, 
attended by two archers, entered the narrow 
chamber in which Sir Yves' son was confined. 

Henri de Valadour, the son of Sir Yves de 
Malevereux, was sitting on a stone bench, 
brooding over his misfortunes. He had been 
shown a consideration that contrasted favour- 
ably with his sire's treatment of Sir Oliver, but 
the sullen countenance of the prisoner belied 
any feelings of gratitude for his courteous though 
compulsory entertainment. 

" Ten thousand crowns, by my hilt ! " he cried 
disdainfully when the matter was mentioned. 
" Ye'll do well if ye see the colour of ten thou- 
sand sous. If it be thy will to put me to death 



88 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

so be it ; but I pray thee, fair sir, that it may 
not be by means of a hempen rope/' 

" Twould be a fine sight for the countryside 
to see Henri, son of Sir Yves, danghng by his 
neck from the topmost turret of Taillemartel," 
said Gripwell roughly. 

" Forbear, Arnold, forbear," exclaimed Geof- 
frey, speaking in English. " Tis not meet 
that a commoner should speak thus to the son 
of a belted knight — e'en though his sire is 
..unworthy of his coat-armour." 

Then turning to Henri : " Nay, we are not 
murderers," he continued. " Failing the ran- 
som or a fair exchange of prisoners, thou must 
needs remain here awhile in durance. Perchance 
thy father may see fit to swerve from his pur- 
pose." 

A look of gratitude flashed across the sullen 
countenance of the prisoner. As a raider, cap- 
tured in an attempt to pillage the village of a 
neighbouring baron, he had expected nothing 
less than death, since a ransom was not to be 
considered. 

" Fair sir, I thank thee," he replied. " Would 
that I could serve thee by saving Sir Oliver's 
life ; but, though it shames me to say it, neither 
mercy nor justice will stand in my father's 
path." 

Despondently Geoffrey brooded over the 
apparently insoluble situation. Here he was 
within thirty miles of the castle where his 
father was languishing. The slender garrison 
of Taillemartel was insufficient to beleaguer the 
fortress of Malevereux, though at a word every 



GEOFFREY'S DESPERATE RESOLVE 89 

man would gladly follow him on a forlorn hope. 
x\lso he held the son of his arch-enemy as a 
surety for his father's safety, yet that hope, too, 
had failed him. Neither could he raise and 
offer the stipulated ransom, seeing it was against 
Sir Oliver's fixed purpose. And the eve of the 
feast of St. Silvester was now within the space 
of a few days. 

As he ruminated over these things Geoffrey 
had an inspiration. It was but a faint hope, he 
told himself, yet 'tw^as better than nothing. He 
would take advantage of the open house that Sir 
Yves kept on the eve of his patron saint's day 
and enter the castle in disguise. By some means 
the opportunity might occur to provide Sir 
Oliver with a file or a knife. With these in his 
possession much might be done in the hours of 
darkness 'twixt the eve and feast of St. Silvester. 

Geoffrey realized that he must keep Gripwell 
in ignorance of his errand — at least, till he had 
placed a fair distance between him and Taille- 
martel ; for the old man-at-arms would never 
permit his charge thus to place his head in the 
lion's jaws. But the lad had counted the cost, 
and was prepared to take the risk. 

Ere long the plan matured into action. 
Stealthily providing himself with a long rope, 
the lad hid it in one of the small rooms built 
in the outer wall of the castle. A suit of mean 
attire w^as also laid by, and all that remained 
to be done was to wait till darkness set in. 

An hour before dawn the guards patrolling 
the battlements stumbled over a knotted rope 
secured to the carriage of a mangonel. 



go UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

The alarm was instantly raised, and Gripwell, 
on arriving on the scene, ordered a general 
parade, fearing that one of the garrison had 
deserted. 

By the aid of a glare of torches the sub-officers 
began to tell off the men of their respective 
divisions, but ere that could be accomplished 
the word was given that Sir Oliver's son was 
missing. 

Thinking that some foul attempt had been 
made upon his charge, Arnold Gripwell seized 
a torch and ran to the lad's apartment. It was 
empty. His couch had not been slept on, but 
instead a sealed letter lay upon the pillow. 

With trembling fingers the man-at-arms broke 
the seals and read the contents — 

" Arnold Gripwell, — I have set out, with 
God's blessing, to endeavour to do some small 
deed of advancement. Do not, I charge thee, 
attempt to follow or hinder me. Meanwhile 
the ordering of Taillemartel is in thy hands. — 
Geoffrey." 

For a while the old soldier gazed at the missive 
without realizing its meaning. The lad had 
gone, but whither ? With bowed head and 
clasped hands Gripwell knelt before the prie- 
dieu till the grey dawn gained the mastery over 
the shades of night, craving for Divine protec- 
tion for his errant charge. 



CHAPTER X 

THE EVE OF ST. SILVESTER 

ACROSS the vast plain that surrounded the 
gloomy Castle of Malevereux streamed a 
long straggling line of people, all making towards 
the open gateway of Sir Yves' feudal pile. 

There were merchants from Rouen, soberly 
attired and wearing long straight swords as a 
protection against the perils of the roads ; 
peasants of both sexes, striving to overcome the 
deep-rooted sense of fear in spite of the assured 
immunity of goods and person for one day in the 
whole year ; men-at-arms and archers, unarmed 
save for the short knives that hung from their 
belts ; and a sprinkling of knights, monks, 
palmers, jongleurs, and minstrels. 

Amongst Sir Yves' thus generally invited 
guests limped a lad, footsore and weary, meanly 
dressed in coarse gaberdine, doublet, and points. 
It was Geoffrey, son of Oliver, Lord of War- 
blington. 

Bound tightly to the inner side of the lad's 
left arm were two files, while in addition to the 
short dagger that hung in his belt a sharp knife 
was concealed in one of his undressed leather 
buskins. Geoffrey's fair curls had been ruth- 
lessly clipped in order to better his disguise, but 
his clear-cut features belied his role of peasant. 

91 



92 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Crossing the drawbridge, Geoffrey found him- 
self within the portals of the fortress, where the 
Tyrant held his father captive, and with a 
quivering sensation in his throat the lad paused 
beneath the deep vaulted archway, through 
which the bases of the triple portcullis shone 
dully like the fangs of a savage beast. 

On either side of the inner gateway stood a 
strong guard of archers and men-at-arms. Each 
arrival was closely scrutinized, and ere allowed 
to pass was compelled to temporarily surrender 
his weapons. Only in the case of knights and 
gentlemen of quality was the restriction relaxed, 
since they were to take part in the grand joust in 
honour of Sir Yves' patron saint. 

Without being challenged Geoffrey gave up 
his dagger, though one of the soldiers glanced 
askance at the lad's refined face. Deeply self- 
conscious, he bowed his head and hastened his 
footsteps till he gained the outer bailey. 

Here the rectangular grassy space was sur- 
rounded by wooden stands covered with gay- 
coloured cloth, rising in tiers towards the 
encircling walls. In the centre of the platform 
facing the gateway was a dais provided with a 
canopy. This was for the use of Sir Yves de 
Valadour and his principal guests. 

As yet the stands were deserted, the assem- 
bled company being entertained in the grass- 
grown courtyard, where a profusion of broached 
casks and trestled tables groaning with food 
showed that on this and similar occasions Sir 
Yves disbursed his liberality with an unsparing 
hand. 



THE EVE OF ST. SILVESTER 93 

Scorning to partake of his enemy's food, 
Geoffrey stole softly betwixt the crowd of 
gesticulating and chattering guests and made 
his way tow^ards the frowning walls of the keep, 
that reared themselves skywards at the junction 
of the battlements of the outer and inner walls. 

He vaguely wondered whether those long 
slit-like apertures in the base of the keep were 
the windows of the dungeons, till the sound of 
revelry proceeding from them told that the 
lower storeys of the keep were appropriated to 
the garrison. The dungeons, therefore, he 
reasoned, were beneath the ground-level, yet 
there was nothing to indicate their position. 

Continuing his tour of investigation, Geoffrey 
came to a lofty doorway communicating with 
the inner bailey. Here numbers of gaily-clad 
guests were streaming out, laughing and ex- 
changing coarse jokes with each other. 

For'a space the lad stood without, then glanced 
wistfully in the direction of the inner ward. 
Then, summoning up courage, he made his way 
towards this gateway. 

" Ho ! stand there ! '' shouted a hoarse voice, 
" Who art thou — some masterless rascal, I'll 
declare." ^ 

Barring his progress stood a huge man-at- 
arms, resting his gauntleted hands upon a 
massive battle-axe. 

" Methought the castle was free to all this 
day," replied the lad. 

" This part only to the principal guests of the 
Lord of Malevereux," announced the soldier. 
" Now, rascal, what would' st thou ? " 



94 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" My foster-brother Pierre told me that within 
I could see the dungeons/' 

" If thou wilt see the dungeons, take heed lest 
the dungeons keep thee, vaurien/' replied the 
man, laughing. " Now, hence, ere I lay this 
stick about thy back." 

Discomfited, Geoffrey rejoined the crowd of 
revellers. He felt that his plan was doomed 
to failure, since the prison quarters were evi- 
dently in a remote and strictly-guarded portion 
of the castle. 

Just then his quick ear caught a fragment of 
the conversation between two of the guests. 

'' . . . and after the joust what happens, 
gossip ? " 

" I know not of a certainty, but 'tis said that 
Sir Yves hath promised to set the English knight 
in the lists." 

" What English knight ? " 

" I know not. 'Tis reported that he hath 
been a prisoner here for some time past. But 
in any case we shall see what a half-starved 
Englishman can do 'gainst a gallant French- 
man." 

" Who is to oppose this English knight ? " 

" Rumour hath it that Sir Denis himself will 
sweep the rogue from his horse. Ala foi, 'twill 
be a merry business. But " 

A loud blast upon a horn caused the conver- 
sation to terminate abruptly ; the guests made 
a hurried scramble towards the platforms, while 
a crowd of lacqueys and serving-men ran hither 
and thither, removing the depleted tables and 
wine-casks. 



THE EVE OF ST. SILVESTER 95 

In a few minutes all signs of the feast had 
vanished. Soldiers began to erect the barrier 
for the spear-running, while the opposing knights 
with their squires and pages took up their position 
at one end of the lists. 

Precisely at high noon a fanfare of trumpets 
announced the entry of Sir Yves de Valadour, 
Lord of Malevereux, and his chosen company. 

Sir Yves was a man of about fifty years of 
age, dark features, black-bearded, and with 
beetling brows that, in spite of the festive season, 
seemed to wear a perpetual scowl. He was 
slightly over middle height, bull-necked and 
inclined to obesity, while as he walked his legs 
seemed too weak to support his ponderous 
body. He was richly apparelled in silk trim- 
med with fur, though men would have it 
that underneath his slashed doublet he wore a 
suit of light sword-proof mail. With the excep- 
tion of a short dagger he was unarmed, while in 
his hand he carried a warder with which the 
signal for the commencement or termination of 
an encounter was to be given. 

Amidst the plaudits of the majority of the 
spectators, who louted with the utmost servility 
as he passed. Sir Yves ascended the da'is, which 
was raised about five feet from the ground, and 
took his seat in a high-backed oak chair. On 
his right sat Sir Denis, his brother, his face still 
inflamed from the glowing charcoal that Grip- 
well had hurled at him on the occasion of the 
raid upon the village of Taillemartel. 

At his left hand sat Arnaud de Con vers, a 
knight of almost as bad a reputation as his 



95 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

host. With them were about two score ladies 
and their husbands or lovers, their bright gar- 
ments adding to the picturesqueness of the 
assembly. 

For a space Sir Yves regarded the crowds of 
spectators with a curious sneering expression, 
then turning towards Arnaud de Convers he 
whispered something that brought a grim smile 
to their faces. 

Raising his warder, the Tyrant gave the 
signal for the tourney to commence, and amid 
a prolonged fanfare of trumpets the contesting 
knights, twelve in number, rode slowly down the 
lists. With closed visors, shields on their left 
arms and lances raised, the steel-clad warriors 
made a brave show, taking no apparent heed 
of the outburst of vociferous cheering and the 
shouts of acclamation as their respective par- 
tisans recognized the devices of their favourite 
knights. 

Opposite the dais each knight reined in his 
steed and saluted the Lord of Malevereux by 
lowering the point of his lance, while one of the 
marshals of the list read out the name and style 
of the respective champions. 

While this ceremony was in progress Geoffrey, 
seated on a crowded bench within three spears' 
length of the dais, was taking careful stock of his 
surroundings, while at the same time his mind 
was actively dwelling on the conversation be- 
tween the two men that related to one who could 
be none other than his father. Sir Oliver. There 
could be no possible doubt that the Tyrant 
meant to cause the death of the English knight, 



THE EVE OF ST. SILVESTER 97 

since a man ill-fed and weakened by close con- 
finement could hardly be expected to do other- 
wise than fall an easy victim to -the powerful 
and well-armed Sir Denis. 

Geoffrey's reverie was interrupted by a stir- 
ring trumpet-call, and, in spite of his fears and 
anxieties, his martial instinct was aroused by 
the sight that met his gaze. 

From end to end of the lists the field was 
empty, save for the presence of two knights 
armed cap-a-pied, who, motionless as statues, 
sat upon their steeds. To the right of each 
horseman was the stout oaken barrier that ran 
athwart the field, so that at the moment of 
impact it would prevent the chargers from 
coming into actual contact. 

At the terminations of the barrier fences were 
erected enclosing spaces reserved for the other 
champions and their attendants, while booths 
had been set up for the armourers and shoeing- 
smiths ; also, with a great significance, for the 
accommodation of those who sustained injuries 
in the tourney, priests and chirurgeons being in 
attendance. 

A tense silence fell upon the multitude, 
broken by the hoarse shout of " Laissez alley ! " 
by Sir Yves. 

Instantly the steel-clad statues were trans- 
formed into the personification of warlike 
activity. The merest touch of the sharp row- 
elled spurs sufficed to set their horses into a 
furious gallop, while with bodies crouched, 
shields pointed, and lances in rest, the rival 
knights prepared to meet the shock. 



gS UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

With the turf flying in pellets from the 
horses' hoofs, the shai"p points of their lances 
scarce swerving a hair's breadth with the motion 
of their chargers, the champions closed. For 
a brief instant both seemed to sway in the saddle, 
then recovering themselves they passed each 
other and reined up at their respective ends 
of the lists ere the fragments of their shattered 
weapons fell to earth. 

An outburst of shouts and acclamations 
greeted this feat of arms, but without pausing 
to recover breath the two champions wheeled 
and, sword in hand, rode to continue the encoun- 
ter. 

Sparks flashed as steel met steel. It was 
mainly cut and parry, though now and again a 
lightning-like thrust w^as given and smartly 
caught upon the shield of the opponent. 

At length, from sheer exhaustion, both knights 
began to relax their efforts, while the crowds, 
unmindful of the presence of the Lord of Male- 
vereux in their excitement, shouted encourage- 
ment and applause. Several of the spectators 
on the dais begged Sir Yves to throw down his 
warder and declare the combat a drawn one, 
but grimly the Tyrant refused. 

" They have a private quarrel, methinks ; 
therefore a Voutrance, let it be." 

But Sir Yves was to be disappointed. With 
their shields riven asunder the knights continued 
the fight, till the sword of one was broken close 
to the hilt. Instantly he grasped his mace, 
and, with all his energy thrown into the stroke, 
dashed his opponent's weapon from his grasp. 



THE EVE OF ST. SILVESTER 99 

The latter instantly seized his mace, but on 
urging their steeds up to the barrier to renew 
the encounter neither warrior could put forward 
sufficient strength to raise his ponderous weapon. 
There they sat, their eyes flashing behind their 
visors in speechless rage, till at a signal from Sir 
Yves their squires ran in and led them back to 
their respective tents. 

The next bout was betwixt two knights 
armed with blunted lances. In the encounter 
their weapons proved more dangerous than the 
naked steel ; one of the combatants caught his 
opponent fairly on the gorget, while the latter' s 
weapon glanced harmlessly from the former's 
shield. Wedged in betwixt the high-peaked 
tilting saddle, the knight of the slippery lance 
was bent backwards till he fell sideways from 
the saddle, crippled for life. 

Then two champions armed with battle-axes 
took their places, the intervening barrier in this 
instance being removed. Both were short, 
broad-shouldered men of immense strength, 
and each was actuated by a desire to advance 
the claims of his lady, since a saffron-coloured 
glove adorned their casques. In this encounter 
it seemed as if the result would be similar to 
the first, for neither gained any great advantage, 
although they fought vigorously for a consider- 
able time. 

At length one of the two champions tripped 
and fell, his opponent immediately standing 
over him with his miserecorde at the bars of his 
visor. Once more Sir Yves' warder descended, 
and the vanquished knight was assisted to his 



100 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

feet by his lacqueys and taken off the field, while 
the victor, proud of his achievement, and in 
the knowledge that he was the richer by a suit 
of brazen armour — for by the rules of the 
tournament the harness of the conquered be- 
came the property of the conqueror — stalked 
slowly round the field with open visor that all 
might see and acclaim him. 

For the space of over three hours the tourney 
continued, not without much shedding of blood, 
till there remained only one who had not as yet 
engaged in the contest. 

Even from a distance Geoffrey felt sure that 
he recognized the steel-clad figure and the 
device on his shield, and a glance at the vacant 
seat on Sir Yves' right hand strengthened his 
conviction — 'twas Sir Denis de Valadour, brother 
of the Tyrant of Malevereux. 

Then arose a fanfare of trumpets, and, escorted 
by a body of men-at-arms, a tall, gaunt, erect 
figure entered the arena. In spite of his 
pale features — for weeks of confinement had 
banished the bronzed hue of health — Geoffrey 
could make no mistake. The new-comer was 
his father. Sir Ohver Lysle. 



CHAPTER XI 

HOW SIR OLIVER GAINED HIS FREEDOM 

A ROAR of merriment, mingled with a few 
cries of shame and pity, greeted the 
EngUsh knight's reappearance in the Hsts. Clad 
in an ill-fitting suit of chain mail with breast- 
plate and bascinet, the joints of which were so 
rusty and stiff that considerable effort was 
necessary to move them. Sir Oliver rode slowly 
into the lists, his lean and decrepit steed barely 
able to carry its rider. 

Yet, in spite of the obvious inferiority of his 
harness and the feebleness of his horse, Sir 
Oliver Lysle bore himself with a knightly 
demeanour that changed the roar of mirth into 
the silence of shame. 

" Sir, this is beyond knightly forbearance," 
expostulated Sir Conyers de Saye, one of the 
champions in the previous encounters. " I 
pray thee grant this knight the use of his harness 
and a proper charger." 

" Nay, Sir Conyers, he must abide by that 
which he hath," replied Sir Yves angrily. 

" I pray thee. Sir Oliver, to do me the favour 
of accepting the loan of my plate armour," cried 
another knight. 

" And my charger," added another. 

" And I do perceive that thy lance is three 

101 



102 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

spans shorter than that of thine adversary/* 
exclaimed a third. 

'* Fair sirs, I thank ye," replied Sir Oliver. 
" But concerning the harness 'tis not meet that 
I should place a true knight's suit of mail in 
jeopardy. This mail will suffice, since already 
it is accustoming itself to my limbs. Also the 
offer of a lance I beg to decline. Methinks an 
English heart behind this lance will atone for 
its shortness when opposed to a recreant knight 
who hath not the courage to openty declare either 
for Burgundy or Orleans." 

Sir Denis winced within his shell of proof 
mail. If the steel of the English knight were 
as sharp as his tongue, his own task would not 
be quite so easy as it had seemed. As for Sir 
Yves, he v/as grinding his teeth vdth rage and 
discomfiture. 

" Nevertheless," continued Sir Oliver, " I 
will deem it an honour to accept the loan of a 
suitable charger from a true and gallant knight 
of France." 

" Nay, that shall not be," objected the Tyrant. 
'' Either the charger provided or none." 

" Charger, forsooth ! " exclaimed Sir Conyers 
de Saye scornfully. " Art blind, Sir Yves, 
that thou canst not tell good horseflesh from bad, 
or is it a case of oculos hahent et non videhimt ? 
Either Sir Oliver hath leave to accept the loan 
of a serviceable charger or I'll shake off the dust 
of this place." 

"And I," "And I," shouted the other 
knightly guests, who, in order to prove the 
sincerity of their intentions, began to call upon 



SIR OLIVER GAINS HIS FREEDOM 103 

their squires and pages to follow them from the 
castle. 

" Let him have the horse, then," replied the 
Lord of Malevereux ungraciously. 

" I pray for thy success," whispered Sir 
Conyers encouragingly, as Sir Oliver was assisted 
into the saddle of the borrowed charger. 

A tucket sounded, and Sir Denis cantered 
to the other end of the lists, while the English 
knight, after having given his steed a short 
run to test its capabilities, drew up in anticipa- 
tion of the signal for the onset. 

Unable to control his feelings during the inevit- 
able pause, Geoffrey started to his feet. 

"St. George for England, father ! " he cried 
out, oblivious to all else besides the two com- 
batants. 

Men turned in astonishment to gaze at the 
daring youth. Sir Denis marked the lad with 
a ferocious glare. Sir Yves, engaged in con- 
versation, heard but the first portion of the 
exclamation, while Sir Oliver caught everything 
but the last word. 

" Ay, young sir, St. George for England and 
God's benison on my task," he replied. 

The next instant the warder of the Lord of 
Malevereux clattered on the floor of the dais. 

Both antagonists started at the signal. Sir 
Denis urged his charger down the lists at its 
utmost speed, while with sharpened lance held 
firmly in rest he sought to transfix his adversary, 
or at least to sweep him from the saddle. On 
his part Sir Oliver rode more cautiously, keeping 
a firmer hold upon the bridle than on his lance. 



104 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

The spectators held their breath. Surely 
the ill-armed Englishman must go down before 
the impetuous rush of the burly, powerful 
Frenchman ? But ere their lance-points crossed 
Sir Oliver pulled in his steed, dropped swiftly 
forward across the animal's mane, and raised 
his shield obliquely above his head, his lance 
falling from his grasp as he did so. 

Ere Sir Denis could lower his lance-point the 
steel glided from the oblique surface of his anta- 
gonist's shield. The next instant the English- 
man's sinewy arm was around the Frenchman's 
waist, and, throwing all the power of his half- 
starved frame into one mighty heave. Sir Oliver 
lifted his steel-clad opponent clean out of his 
tilting saddle. With a dull clang the brother 
of the Tyrant fell upon the turf, helpless and 
beaten by one whom he had regarded as an 
easy victim to his prowess. 

Already some of the squires and pages of 
Sir Denis were running to their master's aid, 
while others attempted to seize the bridle of his 
riderless horse. But urging his steed into a 
gallop, Sir OHver ranged alongside the masterless 
animal, and before the astonished crowd could 
realize his action he was in the saddle but re- 
cently occupied by Sir Denis, while his borrowed 
charger was trotting back to its lawful owner. 

" Seize me yon English knight," shouted Sir 
Yves with an oath. " What ! Why tarry ? 
Dost think 'tis the Prince of Darkness ? " For 
feelings either of surprise or repugnance towards 
the man who had already shown his intention of 
breaking his plighted promise restrained the 



SIR OLIVER GAINS HIS FREEDOM 105 

servants of the Lord of Malevereux. Not a 
hand was raised to apprehend the knight who 
had held his own against such fearful odds. 

Sir Yves' perjurous utterance was his death 
warrant. Goaded to fury by this breach of 
faith, Sir Oliver spurred his horse up to the 
foot of the dais, and, mace in hand, dealt a 
crashing blow at the recreant knight. 

Hemmed in by the high-backed chair, the 
Lord of Malevereux was unable to avoid the 
stroke. With warder raised he strove to parry 
the ponderous weapon, but death came to him 
far more mercifully than he had brought it to 
others. Sir Yves de Valadour, of the high, of 
the middle, and the low, lay a corpse in the 
midst of the assembly that had gathered to 
witness his triumph over his captive. 

Wheeling, Sir Oliver rode straight for the 
gateway of the castle. Not one of the knights 
stirred a hand to hinder him, though several of 
the garrison of Malevereux attempted to bar 
his way. Two men-at-arms went down under 
his charger's hoofs, but before the portcullis 
could be dropped or a cross-bowman had levelled 
his cumbersome weapon the English knight 
was spurring across the drawbridge, well on his 
way to freedom. 



CHAPTER XII 

IN WHICH GEOFFREY IS LAID BY THE HEELS 

THE courtyard of the Castle of Malevereux 
presented a scene of utter confusion, 
following Sir Oliver's desperate deed and suc- 
cessful flight. 

With one accord the spectators made towards 
the gate, shouting and jostling in their haste to 
leave the scene of the tragedy. Many were 
the glances cast askance at the mangled heap 
lying in ghastly solitude on the floor of the dais, 
for not one of the chief guests remained by the 
body of the dreaded Tyrant. 

Filled with a wild excitement of joy at his 
father's escape, Geoffrey mingled with the surg- 
ing crowd. Now that the object of his visit 
to Malevereux was accomplished, though 'twas 
not his doing, the lad realized that his best plan 
was to depart as unobtrusively as possible and 
make his way back to Taillemartel, whither Sir 
Oliver must assuredly have gone. 

The lad had gained the gateway of the outer 
bailey. In another moment he would have 
crossed the drawbridge and shaken the dust 
of Malevereux from his feet, when a heavy hand 
grasped him by the shoulder. 

" 'Tis he, sure enough. Secure him, mes 

106 



GEOFFREY IS LAID BY THE HEELS 107 

gargons/* exclaimed a deep voice, and, turning 
his head, Geoffrey found that his captor was the 
man-at-arms who had spoken to him at the 
entrance to the inner ward. 

" Sir, why thus ? Methinks that all have 
safe conduct here this day." 

" List to him," laughed the soldier. " Doth 
a peasant lad talk thus ? His speech betrayeth 
him." 

" I myself heard him cry encouragement to the 
Englishman," said another soldier. 

" Ay, and he called him father," added a 
third. 

" Ah, is that so ? Guard the lad carefully. 
We must bring him before Sir Denis. Answer 
me — is Sir Oliver thy sire ? " 

Geoffrey kept silence. He was in sore straits, 
yet he resolved to bear himself right manfully. 
His arrest had been carried out without attract- 
ing attention from the outgoing throng, and 
even had he appealed for aid his words would 
have fallen upon deaf ears. 

In the centre of a ring of steel the lad was 
urged against the press of departing spectators, 
and conducted to a groined room in the inner 
ward, where Sir Denis was lying stripped of his 
harness. 

The discomfited knight was in a sorry plight, 
for, in addition to the partially-healed burns 
sustained at Taillemartel, he had been bruised 
from head to foot by the fall from his horse. 
Added to his bodily injuries, the fact that he 
had been vanquished by an opponent whom he 
had regarded with disdain did not improve 



io8 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

his temper. The iron of humihation had eaten 
into his soul. 

" Parblieu ! 'Tis well that ye have laid the 
young viper by the heels/' he exclaimed. " Did 
I not hear him shout words of encouragement 
to the Englishman ? More than that, he called 
him father." 

" Ay, mon seigneur, I also heard him speak 
thus," added one of Geoffrey's captors. 

" Thy name and conditions, sirrah. I per- 
ceive that thou art not of common stock. 
Answer truly for thy life." 

" I'll answer thee truly, though not by reason 
of fear. I am Geoffrey, son of Sir Oliver Lysle." 

" If thy father were worthy of the name he 
would have returned to aid his son," sneered 
Sir Denis. 

" Without doubt he will in good time," 
replied Geoffrey boldly. 

" I trust he will. Perchance he may again 
be a guest under m}^ roof. But a truce to idle 
talk ; search him." 

Under the rough practised hands of the 
soldiers the files and the dagger concealed on the 
lad were discovered and promptly taken pos- 
session of by his captors, and with coarse gibes 
he was hurried from the presence of the fierce 
baron. 

From the room in the inner ward Geoffrey was 
taken across the courtyard, where he had a 
brief glimpse of the clear blue sky that was to 
be a stranger to him for many a long, weary day. 

Unlocking a small heavily -barred door on the 
ground level of the massive keep or " donjon," 



GEOFFREY IS LAID BY THE HEELS 109 

the men-at-arms thrust the lad within. Then, 
taking a hghted torch that cast a weird glare 
upon the low, musty stonework of a long passage, 
one of the men led the w^a}^ follow- ed by the 
captive and the rest of his guards. 

At the termination of the passage a flight of 
narrow stone steps communicated with another 
tunnel-like way tw^enty feet beneath the upper 
one. Here the atmosphere w^as even more 
dank and umvholesome, wMe to the young 
prisoner the footfalls of the men sounded like 
a knell. 

Still deeper in the bowels of the earth did 
they descend, till Geoffrey found himself in 
another tunnel- like passage roughly constructed 
of stones set herring-bone fashion, rising to an 
uncemented hne of key-stones overhead. 
Through the joints the moisture dripped inces- 
santly, forming slimy pools that reflected the 
dull red glare of the flaming torch. 

" Here's thy kennel, wolf's w^help," said a 
soldier gruffly, laying a detaining hand upon the 
lad's shoulder. 'Twas well he did so, otherwise 
Geoffrey would have stepped blindly into a 
yawning unfenced pit in the floor of the pas- 
sage. 

Hitherto the captive had offered no resistance, 
but the sight of the horrible pit filled him with 
a nameless terror. Madly he struggled with his 
captors, but, in spite of his youthful strength 
and energy, he was no match for the burly 
ruffians that worked the will of the Lord of 
Malevereux. 

In a trice he was secured, a stout cord passed 



no UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

through a rope girdle fashion round his waist, 
and with a savage kick Geoffrey was hurled 
into space. Then the cord took the strain of 
his weight, and slowly he was lowered into the 
loathsome den that was to be his prison. 

Down and down he found himself being 
dropped, till far above his head he could per- 
ceive a narrow circle illumined by the torchlight, 
then with a jerk his feet touched the floor of the 
pit. 

Throwing down one end of the cord and haul- 
ing up the other, the men-at-arms removed all 
means of communication with their prisoner, 
and with a brutal jest and mocking laugh they 
disappeared, their echoing footsteps growing 
fainter and fainter till all was still. 

Left to himself, Geoffrey could scarce control 
the agony of his emotions. The impenetrable 
darkness seemed to possess weight — it literally 
crushed him with its terrors. 

For a considerable while he dared not move 
a foot, fearing that the uneven floor might con- 
tain a pitfall that would assuredly compass his 
destruction. There he stood, overcome with 
the sense of his horrible surroundings, vaguely 
wondering how long his body and mind could 
exist under such appalling conditions. He 
had heard of men languishing for months, nay, 
years, in oubliettes and loathsome dungeons 
till death came as a merciful release, but until 
now he had not realized the bodily and mental 
torture of the silence and darkness of a living 
tomb. 

At length his legs refused to support him, and 



GEOFFREY IS LAID BY THE HEELS iii 

having carefully felt all around him, Geoffrey 
sank down upon the moist and slimy stones that 
formed the floor of the dungeon. Then he 
gradually worked his way, proceeding with the 
utmost caution, till his hands encountered the 
jagged wall. This he followed, making several 
complete circles ere he realized, by the leaving 
of one of his shoes on the floor, that the place 
was built in the shape of a bottle. 

Then, gaining confidence, he made another 
circle, taking count of the number of strides 
required to bring him back to his starting-place. 
Thus Geoffrey discovered that his prison was 
but twenty paces round, and without angles 
or doorways communicating with other parts of 
the subterranean chambers. 

This was one piece of information, but a most 
trying question was how to measure the space 
of time. Already he was unaware how long he 
had been in the awesome pit ; time seemed to 
have ceased to exist. 

After seeming hours of torturing suspense 
the sound of footsteps rumbled down the tunnel- 
like passage, and a gleam of hght, that gave 
indescribable comfort to the miserable prisoner, 
began to grow brighter and brighter, till the 
outlines of a man leaning over the mouth of 
the pit were thrown into strong relief by the 
light of a horn lantern. 

" Here's thy food," announced the man 
gruffly. " Cast loose the cord, I pray thee." 

As he spoke he lowered a pitcher of water and 
a loaf of rye bread. Geoffrey unfastened the 
cord by which they were lowered, and without 



112 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

another word the gaoler proceeded to pull up 
the sole means of communication. 

" How long am I to lie in this horrible den, 
I beg of thee to tell me ? " asked the lad plead- 
ingly, but his onl}^ answer was a gruff chuckle, 
and the man hurried away. 

Geoffrey consumed his sorry meal, then 
sitting with his head resting on his knees, tried 
his utmost to reconcile himself to his surround- 
ings. Fortunately, sleep came to the relief of 
his bodily and mental anguish, and stretched 
upon the hard floor he fell into a deep yet 
dream-haunted slumber. 

How long he slept he knew not. Suddenly 
he awoke with a start, to find the pit illumined 
by the glare of numerous torches, while men's 
voices roughly shouted to him to bestir him- 
self. 

Staggering to his feet, Geoffrey found a 
stout-noosed rope dangling within a few inches 
of his head, and, in obedience to an order, he 
passed the loop under his arm-pits. The next 
instant he was lifted off his feet, and, swaying 
to and fro, he was hauled to the surface. 

Escorted by his captors, the lad retraced his 
steps along the damp stone passage that he 
had traversed long hours before, but ere the 
ground level was reached the party halted 
before a low iron-bound door. 

" This will be thy quarters," exclaimed one 
of the men, producing a heavy key that hung 
with others on his girdle. " How did'st thou 
like the night in my lord's guest-chamber, eh ? 
Have a care, therefore, and behave thyself cir- 



GEOFFREY IS LAID BY THE HEELS 113 

cumspectly in thy new abode ; for, failing this, 
back to yon pit thou'lt go/' 

So saying, the gaoler unlocked the door, that 
creaked and groaned on its hinges as it opened. 

" In with thee.'' 

Geoffrey could not but obey. Indeed, he 
was only too thankful to have escaped the 
terrors of the oubliette. But as he stepped 
across the low threshold he gave a cry of sur- 
prise, for the glare of the torches showed him 
that the prison-chamber was already occupied 
— and by none other than Oswald Steyning ! 

The ponderous door was closed and locked, 
but Geoffrey heeded it not. He had almost 
forgotten his gloomy surroundings in the joy 
of greeting his friend. For some considerable 
time both lads were too full of excitement to 
do more than wring one another's hands, but 
by degrees they calmed down, and for the next 
two or three hours they exchanged stories of the 
events that led up to their presence in the Castle 
of Malevereux. 

Thus began the first of many long days of 
joint captivity. The room in which the lads 
were held prisoners was gloomy enough, 
though it lacked the grim terrors of the pit. 
It was barely ten feet in length and six in 
breadth, while from floor to ceiling the height 
varied from nine to five feet. 

At the highest end, which was farthermost 
from the door, was a square aperture communi- 
cating with the open air, but owing to the 
thickness of the walls and a sharp curve in the 
opening it was impossible to see the broad day- 



114 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

light. Consequently, though there was a toler- 
able supply of fresh air, only a dim subdued 
light filtered in through the grated aperture, 
barely sufficient to penetrate the gloom of the 
prison. 

Beyond the daily visits of the gaoler who 
brought their food and water, the lads saw no 
one. Time hung heavily on their hands, though 
in addition to being able to engage in conversa- 
tion, they took as much exercise as the confined 
limits of the cell would permit, in order to 
preserve, as far as possible, the suppleness of 
their limbs and the strength of their muscles. 

Notwithstanding the threat of the oubliette 
that hung over their heads like the sword of 
Damocles — for Oswald, too, had made acquaint- 
ance with the loathsome dungeon — the lads 
were ever on the alert to take advantage of an 
opportunity to effect their escape. 

So far their vigilance was ill-rew^arded, for, 
being without weapons or tools, they were 
unable to remove the iron bars forming the 
grating of the air-shaft, wMe tunnelling through 
the walls or under the floor w^as equally im- 
possible. Nor did the gaoler take any undue 
risks ; for, although he entered the cell alone, 
three or four armed men were always within 
easy call, ready to rush to his aid at the first 
summons. 

One day the lads were aroused by an unwonted 
stir without the castle walls. Borne faintly 
to their ears came the sounds of strife, men 
shouting and shrieking, weapons clashing, and 
the sharp hiss of bolts and arrows. 



GEOFFREY IS LAID BY THE HEELS 115 

" The castle is attacked," exclaimed Oswald. 
" They are storming the battlements." 

" Thou art right," replied Geoffrey. " I 
trow 'tis my father and the men of Taillemartel 
that are without." 

" Would that we could see," continued his 
companion, hauling himself up the bars of the 
grating. " Certes, 'tis a fierce encounter." 

" Dost hear English voices ? " asked Geoffrey 
anxiously. 

" Nay, I cannot distinguish any such." 

Long did the sound of strife continue, till at 
length all was quiet, save for the exultant shouts 
of the garrison. Whoever the attackers were, 
it was evident that they had been repulsed, and 
with the utmost dejection the lads were com- 
pelled to admit that their hope of deliverance 
had been rudely shattered. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE POSTERN FACED WITH POINTS OF STEEL 

ABOUT three months after this event the 
captives were aroused from their sleep 
by the door of their prison being thrown open. 
Accompanied by four men-at-arms was Sir 
Denis de Valadour. 

Instinctively both lads realized that some- 
thing untoward was at hand, and starting to 
their feet they steeled themselves to meet the 
coming ordeal with stout hearts. 

" Greetings, gentles," exclaimed Sir Denis, 
with a forced attempt at a smile. " Your 
pardon for this intrusion, for His unbetimes ; 
yet methinks the nature of my visit will make 
amends for all things. To be brief, after due 
consideration, His my bounden duty to admit 
that I owe ye courteous treatment.'' 

He paused and eyed the lads narrowly, 
endeavouring to note the effect of his words. 
But, receiving no reply to his somewhat vague 
utterances, the knight continued — 

" Certes, 'tis strange how the wheel of fate is 
ordered by small matters. When my brother. 
Sir Yves, fell beneath thy father's hand. Master 
Geoffrey, only his son stood betwixt me and the 
castle and estates of Malevereux. Henri was 
ever a lusty youth, and bade fair to live to a 

U6 



THE POSTERN 117 

green old age — always excepting the chance of 
dying in harness. Yet, alas and alack)! he must 
needs attempt to swallow a carp's bone, with 
the result that I am an uncle no longer/' 

Once more Sir Denis paused, a hypocritical 
look of sorrow overspreading his saturnine 
features. 

" And mark ye, carp, lordly salmon, and the 
roast beef ye Islanders boast so much about ! 
On these he was fed by thy father's bounty, 
while I have given thee but craven fare. Fie on 
me ! Yet I will make amends. As Lord of 
Malevereux — for such I now am — 'tis in my 
power to do so. More, 'tis my wish. There- 
fore I give you both your freedom." 

The youths could scarce grasp the full signi- 
ficance of the word " freedom." To them the 
ever-present longing for liberty had grown 
fainter and fainter, till only a feeble hope was 
left them. Now, with startling suddenness, 
freedom awaited them. 

" Sir Knight, I thank thee," exclaimed Geof- 
frey when at length he found words. 

" Nay, 'tis nought," replied Sir Denis. " I 
trust that Malevereux will be at peace with its 
neighbours. But, fair sirs, of 3^our charity pray 
for the soul of Henri de Valadour, my nephew. 
By so doing my reward for the deed is assured." 

" When are we permitted to leave the castle ? " 
asked Oswald. 

'' When ye list. There is no time like the 
present, fair sirs. But I must needs point out 
that my act of clemency is ill-regarded by a 
section of the garrison, therefore 'twould be 



ii8 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

better to depart secretly. Though the night be 
dark, the way is easy. Therefore, when we have 
supped I myself will conduct ye to the postern." 

So saying. Sir Denis clapped his hands, and 
in response to the summons a serving-man 
entered the cell bearing a trencher loaded with 
good cheer. After months of poor fare the 
repast was doubly welcome, though in their 
excitement the lads could scarce do justice to 
the tem^pting viands. 

While the meal was in progress the new Lord 
of Malevereux stood leaning against the wall, the 
glare of a torch held by one of the men-at-arms 
throwing his features into strong relief. Was it 
fancy, thought Geoffrey, that he saw a sinister 
gleam in the eyes of Sir Denis ? 

" Are ye ready, young sirs ? " asked the baron 
when the lads had finished their repast. " Then 
follow me ; tread boldly, for there is none to 
hinder ye." 

Traversing three long passages, interrupted by 
short flights of steps, the Lord of Malevereux 
stopped before a low archway where strong bars 
took the place of a solid door. Outside the 
youths could see the dim outline of a stone wall, 
feebly lighted by the torch of the attendant 
man-at-arms, while the twinkling stars beyond 
seemed to beckon the captives to the freedom 
that had so long been denied them. 

'' Here is a cloak apiece," said Sir Denis, as a 
soldier handed the garments to the lads . ' ' Thes e 
will not come amiss, I take it, for 'tis cold with- 
out. Now, Hubin, unlock the portal, I pray 
thee." 



THE POSTERN 119 

The man-at-arms, fumbling at a bunch of 
keys at his waist, at length produced the re- 
quired article, and, thrusting it into the lock, 
contrived with much exertion to open the rusty 
wards. 

" 'Tis but rarely that men pass this way," 
explained Sir Denis. " But see, yonder lies 
thy path. Adieu, fair sirs." 

As the twain passed under the archway the 
grille was closed with a ponderous clang, but 
with feelings of intense thankfulness the lads 
realized that they were on the right side of the 
detaining bolts and bars. 

With light steps they traversed the groined 
passage. Another ten paces and they would be 
under the canopy of Heaven. 

" Hold, Oswald ! " exclaimed Geoffre}^ grasp- 
ing his companion by the arm, at the same 
moment dragging him backwards. " By St. 
Paul ! what have we here ? " 

Geoffrey's warning came only just in time. 
Another step would have precipitated them into 
a gloomy and unfathomable pitfall. 

The stars had been obscured by passing clouds, 
and so intense was the darkness that, although 
the loom of the country was faintly discernible, the 
extent of the new danger was totally concealed. 

" The false knight hath betrayed us," ex- 
claimed Oswald. " What is to be done ? " 

" We cannot do better than stand where we 
are till dawn," replied Geoffrey. " To proceed 
is to court a speedy death ; to return is to suffer 
a worse fate. Perchance when 'tis light we may 
find a way." 



120 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

As he spoke Geoffrey looked towards the open 
bars of the doorway through which they had 
just passed. The torches had been extinguished, 
but a low mocking laugh told the lads that 
some one was listening and waiting to enjoy 
their discomfiture. 

"Is this the way a knight keeps his pledge ? '' 
asked Oswald. 

'' Why doubt my word ? '* replied a deep voice 
that the \^ouths had recognized as that of Sir 
Denis of Malevereux. " Did I not tell ye the 
way was open ? Fare ye well, then. If so be 
ye mil not profit by m}^ advice, then stay and 
starve. On the morrov/, ay, and many succeed- 
ing morrows, I'll watch the struggle 'twixt thy 
choice of death." 

Slowly the night passed. The sky, hitherto 
slightly overcast, became so clouded that the 
pitch-like blackness restricted the youths' field 
of vision to such an extent that they could 
scarce discern each other. 

With the banking up of the clouds a strong 
wand sprang up, increasing in violence till ere 
long it blew with terrific violence. 

Crouching on the stone floor against the side 
of the vault-like tunnel, the lads awaited the 
dawn. The wind pierced them like a knife, 
and in their scanty clothing their bodies shivered 
with the cold. 

Occasional^ they would converse in short 
broken sentences, debating upon the turn of 
events and the probable disclosures brought by 
the dawn. Fortunately, they did not as yet 
feel the pangs of hunger, thanks to their repast 



THE POSTERN 121 

ere they were taken from their prison ; but the 
vague threats in which Sir Denis referred to slow 
starvation filled them with gloomy fears. 

When at length the eastern sky began to 
assume a vivid crimson hue the lads staggered 
to their feet, eager to take stock of their sur- 
roundings. 

Almost at their feet the floor of the passage 
terminated abruptly, descending into what was 
undoubtedly a part of the fosse or dry moat. 
Its depth was not very considerable, being 
barely twenty feet from the coping to the bot- 
tom of the ditch, which was about ten paces 
broad, with its furthermost side sloping steeply 
to the normal level of the surrounding land. 

But, to the lads' consternation, the whole of 
the floor of the moat w^as studdied with sharp 
stakes, each about the height of a man. In 
serrated rows they stood, so close that it was 
impossible to essay a leap without being impaled 
upon one, at least, of the spikes. 

Grasping Oswald's hand, Geoffrey leant cau- 
tiously forward and examined the wall on 
either side of the postern. As far as he could 
see the masonry was smooth and even, so that 
there was no means of finding a iEoothold. 
Above the archway the wall towered to a height 
of thirty feet, while, from the presence of two 
loopholes, through which the ends of rusty 
chains still hung, it was evident that at one time 
a light drawbridge crossed the moat at this 
point, forming a means of communication be- 
tween the postern and the open ground. On a 
level with the loopholes a row of cross-shaped 



122 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

oyelets, or apertures, for discharging crossbows 
commanded the approach on this side of the 
Castle of Malevereux. 

'* We are fairly trapped," exclaimed Oswald 
as they completed their examination of the moat. 
'' This passage is like to be our death-chamber.'* 

'' What lieth at the other end ? " asked Geof- 
frey. " Methought there was a wide space 
betwixt the grille and the wall, though yester- 
night I caught but a brief glimpse in the torch- 
Hght." 

'' We can but see," replied Oswald. '' But 
we must needs wait awhile, till the light is strong 
enough to overcome the gloom of the arch- 
way." 

Upon investigation the archway was found to 
afford no possible means of escape, though, 
owing to a slight deviation in its general direc- 
tion, an intervening curve in the masonry hid 
the outer portion from the observation of a 
person standing without the gate. 

As for the latter, it was composed of wrought 
iron with massive hinges. The upper part from 
a distance of three feet from the ground was 
open, but secured by the bars of the grille, the 
space betwixt each bar being sufficient to enable 
a man to insert his head without allowing his 
body to follow. 

Without the door all was quiet. The stone 
passage, wrapped in sombre gloom, was deserted. 
Deeming his prisoners perfectly secure, the Lord 
of Malevereux had purposely neglected to post 
a sentry at this gate. 

''The way is clear," said Oswald. ''Could 



THE POSTERN 123 

we but squeeze through yon bars, perchance we 
might lie hidden in some dark recess." 

'' To w^hat purpose ? We should still be 
within the castle." 

'' We cannot make our position one whit the 
worse, Geoffrey. Who knows but that we may 
be able to escape by some other postern ? Thou 
art the slighter build, though certes, we both are 
as thin as a stripped distaff. Through with thee, 
and I'll do my best to follow." 

Geoffrey immediately essayed the difhcult task, 
but though he raised one arm well above his 
head and kept the other close to his side, while 
his comrade assisted by heaving and pushing, 
his slender body was too large to pass betwixt 
the narrow space in the grille. Yet not till he 
was black in the face and utterly exhausted by 
his struggle did Geoffrey confess himself beaten. 

As the sun rose higher in the heavens the 
wind died away, and by high noon the atmo- 
sphere was in a state of extreme sultriness. 
Though protected from the fierce rays by the 
stonework of the arch, both lads began to feel 
the torture of an agonizing thirst, which was 
intensified by the tantahzing sight of a small 
brook meandering through the fields at a short 
distance from the castle. 

Once did Sir Denis, clad in complete armour, 
approach the bars of the door to gloat over his 
captives, but after a few moments' stay he went 
away without a word. Shortly afterwards the 
lads saw hun at the head of a body of mounted 
men riding rapidly from the castle. 

" Yon base caitiff will trouble us no more 



124 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

awhile/' observed Geoffrey, pointing towards 
the receding troop. " Come, now, art wilUng 
to hazard a leap ? " 

" Nay," rephed Oswald, regarding the for- 
midable array of spikes with a shudder. " Cold 
steel I'd face in battle as becomes an English- 
man, but, by St. George, to be skewered by a 
rusty spearhead — for thus I perceive them to be 
— is more than I can stomach." 

" Then I will essa}^ the leap," exclaimed Geof- 
frey, stripping off his cloak and rolling it into a 
ball as a protection for his hands. " If I fail 
perchance my weight will thrust aside sufhcient 
of these spikes for thee " 

" Nay, art mad ? " interrupted his compan- 
ion, laying a detaining hand upon Geoffrey's 
shoulder. 

" Anything but this horrible thirst." 

'' Methinks that will shortly be assuaged. 
Mark yon cloud ; observe how it draws nigh 
'gainst the little wind that blows. Within half 
an hour 'twill be passing strange if there be not 
a thunder-storm . " 

Oswald was right in his surmise. Ever and 
anon a dull rumble could be heard, the sound 
graduall}^ increasing in intensity, till, accom- 
panied by incessant flashes of lightning and 
deafening rolls of thunder, a torrential rain 
descended. 

Eagerly the lads extended their open palms 
to catch the thirst-quenching moisture, till, 
feeling greatly relieved, they were glad to 
retreat to the furthermost end of the archway to 
escape the fury of the elements. 



THE POSTERN 125 

" Ho, ho ! young sirs. What, still here ? 
Why are ye not well on your way to Taillemar- 
tel ? '' exclaimed a gruff voice. 

Both youths turned at the sound of the voice, 
and at the same time a dazzling flash of lightning 
played upon the steel cap and breastplate of 
one of the men-at-arms. Geoffrey instantly 
recognized him as the man who had stayed his 
advance on the occasion of the memorable 
joust-day. 

" Art hungry ? " continued the soldier. 

Unable to resist the apparent invitation, the 
lads made their way to the barred door. With- 
out stood the man-at-arms, with a loaf of rye 
bread in his hand, held in such a manner that 
the glare of a torch enabled it to be clearly 
seen. 

Ostentatiously the man cut off a slice with 
his dagger, then replacing the weapon in a sheath 
that hung at his right side, he proffered the bread 
to the prisoners. Ere they could stretch out 
their hands the soldier conveyed the food to his 
own mouth, his body shaking with merriment 
at the lads' disappointment. 

Twice he repeated these tantalizing tactics, 
till, realizing that 'twas no intention on the part 
of the man-at-arms to provide them with food, 
Geoffrey and Oswald retired a few steps from 
the grille. 

" What ! Too tired to take thy food ? " 
roared the rogue. " Nay, that will not serve. 
See, here is a tempting morsel." 

A sudden inspiration came to Geoffrey. The 
man had thrust his arm betwixt the bars in 



126 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

order to still further tantalize the famished lads. 
With a swift and surprising spring Geoffrey 
threw himself at the door and grasped the 
fellow's arm b}^ the wrist. 

" Quick, Oswald ! " he exclaimed. 

Oswald had mistaken his comrade's intention, 
for without attempting to seize the food that 
was still grasped in the man's hand, he thrust 
his hand between the grille and laid hold of the 
soldier's dagger. 

The next instant the man had fallen a corpse 
upon the floor, with his own dagger plunged into 
the nape of his neck, Geoffrey still retaining his 
hold of the soldier's wTist. 

" One villain the less," exclaimed Oswald 
triumphantly. 

Fortunately, a deafening peal of thunder 
had drowned the scream of the stricken man. 
This storm was proving a blessing in disguise 
to the two desperate youths, for the remnant 
of the garrison, driven from their posts by the 
tempest, had already taken shelter. 

" I see a way," whispered Geoffrey earnestly. 
" Here, take yon dagger and strip off the fellow's 
breastplate." 

Without stopping to question his companion 
Oswald did as he was told, Geoffrey the while 
holding the wrist of the corpse to prevent it 
from falling below the grille. A few^ minutes 
sufficed to ease the man-at-arms of his steel plate 
and cap, and, retaining the dagger, the lads ran 
to the edge of the moat. 

" Now dost see, Oswald ? I am going to leap 
upon these spikes holding the breastplate in 



THE POSTERN 127 

front of me to turn the points aside. Should I, 
with the blessing of Heaven and the protection 
of my patron saint, succeed in my attempt, 
'twill be an easy matter to clear aside a space 
for thee to leap." 

" 'Tis possible," replied Oswald, as he broke 
the captured bread and divided it between his 
comrade and himself. " But why shouldst 
thou take the honour and the risk of this enter- 
prise ? Rather let me essay the leap." 

Finding that Geoffrey remained obdurate, the 
young squire continued — 

" 'Tis untoward to stand here debating this 
matter, since every moment is precious. Let us 
draw lots." 

So saying, Oswald pulled tw^o threads of 
unequal length from his frayed doublet, and, 
holding them in his hand, allowed one end of each 
only to be visible. 

"To me ! " he exclaimed, as Geoffrey drew 
the shorter thread. " Certes. If I fail I 
trust my failure will be the means of thy 
safety." 

Grasping the breastplate in front of him so 
that the hollow side would be uppermost, 
Oswald boldty leapt into the moat. The steel 
plate turned aside two of the spear-heads, and 
in the space thus cleared the squire alighted, 
though the fleshy part of his right leg was 
badly lacerated by one of the still standing 
spikes. 

Regardless of the pain, the lad staggered to 
his feet, and, grasping the shafts of the spears 
nearest to him, wrenched them from their 



128 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

supports. This done, Geoffrey took a careful 
leap and alighted close to his companion's side, 
safe and unhurt. 

In fear and anxiety the two lads began to force 
their way through the maze of up-pointed wea- 
pons, expecting every moment to hear a challenge 
from the towering walls behind them, or the 
sharp hiss of a shaft from a vigilant bowman ; 
but, thanks to the blinding rain, and the storm 
being at its height, the sentinels had relaxed 
their customary watchfulness. 

On gaining the edge of the furthermost side of 
the moat the lads broke into a run, in spite of 
Oswald's painful wound, for it was expedient 
that the belt of level ground should be traversed 
with the utmost despatch. 

Without detection they reached the banks 
of the little stream that they had observed from 
the postern, now swollen into a foaming torrent. 
Here, taking advantage of a slight dip in the 
ground, they followed the course of the stream, 
since Geoffrey felt certain that 'twas the same 
that crossed the road 'twixt Malevereux and 
Taillemartel. 

For two days and nights the weary fugitives 
continued their journey, subsisting on roots and 
turnips, for the countryside had been swept by a 
party of marauders, so that not a farm nor a 
cottage had escaped destruction by fire. 

Oswald's wound, also, began to cause great 
anxiety, for the lack of rest and proper attention 
had aggravated the injury. But in spite of the 
great disadvantages under which they laboured, 
the lads manfully pursued their way, till they 



1 



THE POSTERN 129 

were rewarded by the sight of the Castle of 
Taillemartel. 

Encouraged by the prospect of a safe ending 
of their tribulations, the fugitives quickened their 
pace, till Geoffrey suddenly came to a halt. 

" Do I see aright, Oswald ? " he exclaimed. 
" Behold the banner over the keep." 

Oswald shaded his eyes and looked, and as he 
did so a look of dismay passed over his face. 
For in place of the mullet and the three stars of 
the Lysles floated the black eagle of De Chargne 
— one of the most powerful adherents to the 
Orleanist cause. 



CHAPTER XIV 

HOW ARNOLD GRIPWELL WAS FREED FROM HIS 

BONDS 

AGHAST at the disconcerting discovery 
that the Castle of Taillemartel was in 
hostile hands, the lads stood in dire perplexity. 
The one refuge on French soil which they had 
relied upon was now denied them. 

" What hath befallen Sir Oliver, thy father ? '' 
asked Oswald at length. " Surely, had he 
gained the castle he would have held it against 
all odds." 

" I cannot say," replied Geoffrey. '' But, 
unless we wish to find ourselves behind iron bars 
once more, it behoves us to give Taillemartel a 
wide berth." 

'' And to go whither ? " 

'' To the coast. Since our mission is accom- 
plished, and my father is no longer in the hands 
of the Lord of Malevereux — though, for aught 
I know, he hath again met with some misfor- 
tune — we must needs make our way homewards. 
But look I A man approaches." 

" I trust he is peaceably inclined," observed 
Oswald, handling the dagger he had snatched 
from the luckless soldier. " Let us hide behind 
yonder tree till we can make more of him/' 

130 



ARNOLD GRIPWELL IS FREED 131 

Accordingly the lads took shelter and awaited 
the stranger's approach. 

" Tis Neron de Boeuf/' whispered Geoffrey, 
as the new-comer drew nearer. " He was ever a 
good servant of my father. Let us show our- 
selves and gain tidings." 

" Is he still true to his salt ? " asked Oswald 
cautiously. 

" Without doubt. Ho, Neron ! What's amiss 
with Taillemartel ? '' 

The man stood still at the sound of the lad's 
voice, with amazement written in every line of 
his wrinkled face. He was a short, corpulent, 
middle-aged man, who had held a post in the 
buttery at the castle, and, as Geoffrey had said, 
had always boasted of loyalty to his master. 

" Pardieu, monsieur ! " he exclaimed as Geof- 
frey stepped from behind the tree-trunk. " What 
has happened to thee ? And Monsieur Oswald 
also." 

*' It matters little what hath befallen us, 
Neron," replied Geoffrey. " Tell us who holds 
Taillemartel, and where is Sir Oliver ? " 

" Concerning Taillemartel, the castle hath 
been taken by Sir Bertrand de Chargne, though 
there was but a poor defence. Only the English- 
man, Gripwell, and a few others struck blows 
for Sir Oliver's cause. They say that the King 
of England hath declared war 'gainst this coun- 
try, and that every Islander hath either been 
thrown into prison or hath fled across the seas. 
Beyond that I know little ; but this I can tell 
you : Sir Oliver is still a captive of the Lord of 
Malevereux." 



132 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" But with mine own eyes I saw my father 
fight his way out of Malevereux, Neron." 

" Then the saints be praised, monsieur. But, 
be that as it may, Sir OHver hath not set foot 
in Taillemartel since the evil day when he was 
taken by the Tyrant." 

'' And Grip well — what of him ? " 

" I cannot say with certainty. Some would 
have it that he hath gotten clear away, after 
vanquishing five of de Chargne's men-at-arms.*' 

" I trust it may be true ; but, tell me, what 
befel Henri, son of Sir Yves ? I was told that 
he died before his trencher." 

" Nay, whoever told thee that lied in his 
throat. He tried to escape by rending his 
sheets into strips and making a rope, but the 
rope broke and he fell to his death." 

" Whither goest thou, Neron ? " 

" To the castle, monsieur," replied the Nor- 
man apologetically. " A man must live, e'en if 
he hath to serve a new master. But, monsieur, 
thou art worn and hungry, and so is thy friend." 

" Ay, that we are," assented Geoffrey. " Per- 
chance thou canst furnish us with food, and put 
us on the safest road to the coast ? " 

" Concerning food, if ye will bear me com- 
pany to the village of Tierny, which hath so far 
escaped the freebooter, at the house of ma belle 
mere ye can be accommodated. 'Tis but two 
leagues distant, and it matters little when I 
return to Taillemartel." 

" Thanks, good Neron. Some day I hope to 
repay thee." ': 

" When Sir Oliver again comes to Taillemar- 



ARNOLD GRIPWELL IS FREED 133 

tel as its master, monsieur," replied Le Boeuf 
sententiously. 

The Norman and the two youths bent their 
steps in the direction of Tierny, the former 
talking volubly the while concerning the events 
of the day, in which he seemed well versed. 

At the house of his wife's mother he procured 
food for the fugitives, and when they had eaten 
they prepared to take their leave. 

"Nay, I cannot give thee directions for the 
whole journey,'' he replied in answer to a ques- 
tion. " But 'tis said that the road through 
Valions, St. Barre-en-ville and Plesse will bring 
thee to Harfleur, being more direct than by the 
banks of the river. As it seemeth certain that 
ye'll not go further than St. Barre this day, I 
commend ye to one Charles Vidoe, who keeps the 
Sign of the Lion. Say that ye are known to 
Neron de Boeuf and your comfort is as- 
sured." 

With a final adieu the Norman bade the lads 
farewell, and began to retrace his footsteps 
tov/ards Taillemartel, while Geoffrey and Oswald, 
still footsore, yet the better for a good meal, 
resumed their long journey towards Harfleur 
and England. i 

" This is great news, if it be true," said Oswald. 
" Perchance ere we reach the coast an English 
army will have set foot on French soil." 

" But if so, how are we to find a ship that will 
bear us across the channel ? " asked Geoffrey. 

" In that case we stop with the forces of our 
King," replied Oswald. 

" Nay, 'tis not that I mean. If war hath 



134 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

broken out, and the English army hath not yet 
left our shores, it will be well-nigh impossible 
to get clear of French soil." 

" Then we must bide our time. Meanwhile 
thou and I are poor peasants bound for Harfleur, 
whither our relatives have already gone. This 
will be the surest way of evading awkward 
questions." 

Ere the lads reached Valions their plan of 
action was already decided. Without incident, 
and practically unnoticed, they passed through 
the little village and began the last stage of 
their day's journey. 

For the most part of the three leagues into 
St. Barre the road ran in a straight line, flanked 
on either side by gaunt willows. 

In the ill-tilled fields a few peasants were at 
their labours, but the sight of two strangers had 
the effect of making them run for their lives. 
The frequent attention of freebooters had 
crushed the spirit of the miserable countrymen, 
and a craven fear of their fellow-men had 
become the chief characteristic of the French 
sons of the soil. 

" This must be St. Barre," said Oswald, 
pointing to a small hamlet at the foot of a hill. 
" Think of the pleasure of being able to sleep 
on fresh straw." 

" 'Tis not to be lightly esteemed," repHed 
Geoffrey. " But let us proceed with caution, 
for, unless I be mistaken, there are more people 
in St. Barre than the village can hold." 

It was well that the lads exercised care, for on 
nearing the hamlet they found that it was in 



ARNOLD GRIPWELL IS FREED 135 

possession of a strong body of cross-bowmen and 
spearmen, wearing the arms of De Chargn^ upon 
their surcoats. 

" Not only does he hold Taillemartel, but the 
countryside as well/' remarked Oswald bitterly. 
*' We must needs sleep in the open this night, 
since His madness to enter the village. Alas 
and alack for my bed of fresh straw ! *' 

" Nay, it might have been worse,'' replied 
Geoffrey encouragingly. " We might have set 
our heads in a trap. But the sun sinks low ; 
we must cast about for a resting-place if we are 
not to lie upon the open ground." 

A short distance from where the lads stood a 
ruined outbuilding reared itself by the roadside. 
Its thatched roof had almost totally disappeared, 
the gaunt rafters standing out clearly against the 
red glow in the sky. 

" This must needs serve," exclaimed Geoffrey, 
as they arrived at the barn. " V faith, if we 
have no worse company than rats I am con- 
tent." 

The building consisted of only one storey, 
but on the horizontal beams beneath the roof a 
few planks had been left. Geoffrey contrived 
with little difficulty to gain the lofty perch, 
whence he assisted his comrade, who still felt 
the effects of his wound, to reach the scanty 
planking of the loft. Here they found that the 
remnant of the thatch afforded tolerable shelter, 
and wrapping themselves in their cloaks they 
were soon fast asleep. 

When they awoke it was broad daylight. 
Although their slumber had been sound, it was 



136 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the babel of men's voices that aroused the 
youths. 

" I tell thee 'tis the fault of old Neron le 
Boeuf," exclaimed a Norman voice. " He hath 
deceived us." 

" If so, he'll pay dearly for it," replied another. 
" Yet why should he play us false ? With 
promise of a liberal reward — Vv^hich of a surety 
his greed v/ould forbid him from refusing — 
'tis unlikely that he would have sent us on a 
false errand." 

" He said that the English lads were to be at 
the Sign of the Lion in yonder village ? " 

" Ay, that he did. Yet those of our men who 
were in the village swear that no stranger passed 
that way." 

" Perchance the rascals themselves have 
cheated us." 

" In any case Le Boeuf will pay for it. But 
we shall rue it too. No prisoners, no reward, 
and three of the horses completely foundered. 
What a greeting we shall have when we return 
to the castle ! " 

" Thou hast forgotten that we have one 
prisoner ? " 

" A man of mean condition. By St. Denis, 
were it not for the information we may get from 
him, I'd as lief pass my knife across his throat. 
And, look ye, comrades, since some of our horses 
are done up, 'twill be best that two of ye stay 
here with the prisoner. The rest of us will push 
on back to Taillemartel, whence we will send 
more horses for those that tarry here." 

The lads heard this conversation with bated 



ARNOLD GRIPWELL IS FREED 137 

breath. Evidently Neron le Boeuf, the trusted 
servant of Sir Ohver, was a traitor, and had not 
scrupled to betray those whom he had appeared 
so anxious to befriend. 

Cautiously the lads looked through a crevice 
in the planking of the loft, fearful lest the slight- 
est movement would cause the timbers to creak, 
or would dislodge a portion of the mouldering 
thatch. 

In the barn below were six bearded men-at- 
arms, clad in leather jerkins studded with iron 
bosses. Each wore a long, straight-bladed sword 
with a plain cross-hilt and a short knife or dagger. 
Why they had entered the barn seemed a mys- 
tery, for they had not attempted to search the 
place, and, fortunately, the lads had made no 
sound in their sleep that was likely to betray 
their presence. 

" Now, out with ye, and bring in the horses 
and the prisoner,'' quoth a man who was evi- 
dently the leader of the party. " And mark ye 
well. While we are gone take heed that ye be 
not seen by our master, for, as ye know, he 
journeys to Amiens this day. Had we not been 
fooled by this rascally Le Boeuf 'twould have 
mattered little, but, ma foi ! to be discovered in 
this plight would mean a raw hide for us 
all." 

With this admonition four of the men went 
out, and on returning brought with them two 
horses and a man, his arms bound behind his 
back. 

To the lads' astonishment the prisoner was 
none other than Arnold Gripwell. 



138 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" Now, hasten, mes camarades,'' continued the 
leader. " Ye that remain keep a sharp eye on 
this rogue. If he gives trouble pass a knife 
across his throat." 

" Give me a knife and a free hand, and I'll 
serve any twain of ye in a manner that ye' 11 
have good cause to remember," growled Grip- 
well. 

" Nay, thou rascal. Joseph and Gros Vibart 
yonder have already good cause to remember 
thee. Anon we'll give thee a knife. Master 
Englishman, though not in the way thou 
wouldst." 

So saying, the Norman leader passed a thong 
round Arnold's ankles — a difficult task, for the 
old man-at-arms lashed out with his feet like an 
untamed stallion— and at length the prisoner 
was secured. Then with a parting caution 
the sous-offlcier and three of the men rode 
off. 

Left to themselves, the remaining two stood 
by their captive till the sound of the horses' 
hoofs had died away in the distance. Then 
they went out, whereupon Gripwell began 
struggling to free himself of his bonds. 

" x\rnold ! Arnold Gripwell," said Geoffrey in 
a hoarse whisper, " 'tis I, Geoffrey Lysle, and 
Oswald too ! Keep silent, and we'U be at thy 
side in an instant." 

" Save ye ! " ejaculated the man-at-arms. 
" By all the saints of Christendom, how came 
ye here ? " 

" Hush ! Here they come," cautioned the 
lad. Not a moment too soon ; one of the quick- 



ARNOLD GRIPWELL IS FREED 139 

eared Normans had detected the sound of a 
voice. 

" What wert thou babbhng about, rogue ? " 
he asked, throwing down a bundle of firewood 
that he had collected, and administering a 
vindictive kick at the helpless prisoner. 

" Can only a Frenchman call upon his patron 
saint ? " demanded Arnold fiercely. 

Apparently the explanation sufficed, for the 
man said no more, but arranged the firewood 
and set light to it. The thick smoke ascended 
to the shattered roof, well-nigh causing the 
lads to choke and gasp for breath. 

Meanwhile the second Frenchman had taken 
a small iron pot from his saddle bow, and had 
filled it with water from a leather bottle that 
hung from the saddle of his companion's horse, 
but on rising and stepping back from the fire 
the first man upset the utensil and spilled every 
drop of the liquid. 

" A curse on thy clumsiness, Gros Vibart ! 
" Not a drain remains." 

" There is water to be had from the brook '* 

" Two bow-shots away. Since thou hast 
caused the mischief thou canst best make 
amends. Off with thee, I say." 

Gros Vibart grumblingly departed, leaving 
his comrade alternately reviling him and the 
luckless Gripwell. Presently the Frenchman, 
having exhausted his vocabulary of abuse, 
came to a standstill in the centre of the barn, 
almost underneath the planks on which the lads 
were lying. 

Cautiously Geoffrey raised himself into a 



140 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

crouching posture, then unhesitatingly sprang 
upon the Frenchman's shoulders. Down went 
the man like a felled ox. 

Without a moment's delay Geoffrey cut the 
thongs that bound Gripwell's arms and legs, 
and, stiff and cramped, the man-at-arms slowly 
rose to his feet. 

" Certes ! I little wot that 'twould be by thy 
aid. Master Geoffrey. But a truce to gossip- 
ing, for the other rogue will be here soon. Not 
that I had lost hope, for I meant to outwit them 
both. There ! Nov/ my limbs begin to feel 
themselves once more. Hand me thy dagger, 
for there's more work to be done ere we leave 
this place." 

Meanwhile Oswald had contrived to descend 
from his perch, feeling stiff and weary with the 
partially-healed wound. 

" Welcome, Arnold. But how say ye ? 
How are we to evade the swarm of men in 
yonder village ? " 

" Time to discuss that, young sir, when we 
have settled with the other rascal— him I owe 
much for his scurvy treatment. My word ! 
He'll pay dearly for kicking a trussed and help- 
less man." 

Presently Gros Vibart returned, but on enter- 
ing the open door his ruddy face blanched as he 
realized that the tables were turned. Yet he 
was not devoid of courage, for, hurling the water- 
pot full at the English man-at-arms, he 
drew his sword and rushed straight at his an- 
tagonists. 

With uplifted arm Gripwell parried the missile. 



ARNOLD GRIPWELL IS FREED 141 

The next instant steel crossed — the heavy double- 
edged blade of the Norman and the slender 
dagger of the Englishman. 

With an agility that belied his corpulent 
frame Gros Vibart got in a lightning thrust that 
required all Grip well's skill to parry, but the 
Norman's blade, slipping down the steel of his 
foeman, caught in a deadly notch in the English- 
man's guard. A powerful turn of Arnold's 
wrist sent his antagonist's weapon hurtling 
across the barn ; and, so quickly that the lads 
could scarce follow its thrust, the dagger was 
plunged to the hilt in the Frenchman's bull 
throat. 

" Now to work," exclaimed Gripwell breath- 
lessly. " Strip yon carrion while I serve this 
one the like. Geoffrey, thou art tall for thine 
age. That rogue's garments will suit thee most 
passably. I will make shift with this one's 
clothes, e'en though they be over full for my 
lean frame." 

''And what of Oswald?" 

" He must needs go as he is. Thou and I are 
to be of De Chargne's following. Master Oswald 
is to be our prisoner, and we are bound for 
Amiens, where De Chargne is now resting. If 
that will not serve we are undone." 

It did not take long to complete their prepara- 
tions. Geoffrey and Arnold donned the clothes 
of the slain Normans, whose bodies were 
forthwith hidden in the long grass. The horses 
were led for a considerable distance ; then, 
finding they were useless, the Englishmen 
turned them adrift. 



142 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

By making a wide detour the adventurers 
succeeded in giving the shp to the troops in 
the village of St. Barre, and in high spirits the 
three comrades in misfortune set ofi on the 
road to Amiens. 



CHAPTER XV 

HOW THE THREE COMRADES SEIZED THE FISHING 

BOAT 

' ' IV TAY, there is little cause to trouble con- 

X\l cerning Sir Oliver/' remarked the man- 
at-arms in answer to Geoffrey's anxious question. 
'' He is safe and well cared for, though a prisoner 
in the hands of — whom thinkest thou ? " 

" I cannot say." 

" None other than Sir Raoul d'Aulx. 'Faith, 
the knight could do naught else but hold Sir 
Oliver captive, since 'twas by the orders of the 
King of France. Yet Sir Raoul was ever a 
courteous knight ; and moreover, bearing in 
mind that once he and Sir Oliver were comrades 
in arms, and also that thou, his son, hast ren- 
dered good service to Sir Raoul's wife and 
daughter, my master's condition is not to be 
deplored, save that he is under a solemn vow to 
keep within the boundaries of the Castle d'Aulx, 
until the termination of the war or release by 
our own forces." 

" Aye, we heard that war was declared, Arnold. 
But why doth King Harry tarry ? " 

" That is his concern, young sir. 'Tis certain 
that the French expect his coming, since every 
available knight and common soldier is being 
hastened into Normandy. What would I give 

143 



144 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

to see a troop of English lances and a few stout 
companies of English bowmen/' 

" Who knows but that thy wish will shortly 
be gratified? " 

" Then it behoves us to hasten towards the 
sea-coast. From Amiens we ought to be able 
to reach Abbeville and seize a craft of sorts 
that W'ill bear us to Old England." 

Buoyed up with hope the three comrades 
pursued their way, but, as luck would have it, a 
few leagues from the town of Amiens they 
encountered none other than De Chargne him- 
self. The baron was returning from a hawk- 
ing expedition, and was attended only by a 
page who carried a falcon attached to his wrist 
by a silver chain. 

In ignorance of the identity of the man whose 
livery the}" wore, Geoffre}" and Gripwell passed 
him mth heads erect and fearless glances. 

" Ho, there ! Insolent varlets ! Why have 
ye not louted to me, Bertrand de Chargne ? 
What manner of men have I in my service that 
pay not proper respect to their lord and master ? 
Your names, sirrahs ? And I'll w^arrant that 
my marshal will lay his rod soundly athwart 
your backs, so that another time ye will have 
good cause to remember me." 

Vehemently the French baron poured out 
this speech, his eyes rolling in his anger. 

" Have at him, Geoffrey," shouted Gripw^ell, 
drawing his sword. "If he 'scapes us, 'twdll 
be our undoing." 

But even in his hot anger De Chargn6 scented 
danger. 




■'throw me yon rope !" HE SHOUTED. 



iPage ij8. 



SEIZING THE FISHING BOAT 145 

^' Peste / Have we wolves in sheep's cloth- 
ing ? '' he exclaimed. " Ride, Michel, for thy 
life." 

As the page set spur to his steed the baron 
did likewise, and both riders were soon clattering 
down the dusty highway. 

" We have seen something that few men can 
boast of,'' said Grip well gleefully. " We have 
seen the back of a De Chargne. But we must 
look to ourselves, for, by St. George, we are hke 
to be in a sorry plight." 

Realizing that ere long the Frenchman would 
raise an alarm, and that the countryside would 
be scoured, the adventurers divested themselves 
of their surcoats with the De Chargne device. 
It was now out of the question to proceed to 
Amiens, so taking a by-lane the Englishmen 
set off at a rapid pace, keeping the while a sharp 
look-out for any signs of pursuit. 

Three days later the fugitives, footsore and 
hungry, came in sight of the blue waters of the 
English Channel. 

" What village is that I see yonder ? " asked 
Gripwell, addressing a peasant who was toiling 
along the road, bent double under the weight of 
a huge basket filled with seaweed. 

" 'Tis St. Valery-en-Caux, monsieur." 

" Ma foi, comrades, we are well out of our 
way," remarked the man-at-arms in order to 
avoid suspicion. " 'Tis to Abbeville that we 
would go." 

" Of a surety thou speakest truly," assented 
the peasant. " It lieth far along the shore, 
though I have ne'er set foot in the town." 



146 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

" This village will serve our purpose/' quoth 
Gripwell, as the peasant resumed his way. 
" We must needs lie hidden till dusk ; then, 
unless I am much at fault, we can with ease 
take possession of one of those fishing-boats I 
see yonder." 

" Canst manage one of these craft ? '' asked 
Oswald anxiously. 

" The wind blows fair. E'en though I be 
not a seaman, I am a man of parts. By the 
help of St. George I fear not that the task be 
beyond me." 

Encouraged by their comrade's self-rehance 
the lads took heart. Even though they were 
compelled to wait till night, the old soldier was 
not idle. 

Leaving the two youths snugly sheltered in a 
field of barley Gripwell went ofi on a foraging 
expedition, returning presently with three large 
rye loaves and a bottle of wine. 

" How camest thou by them ? " asked Geof- 
frey in astonishment. 

"Thou hadst best not to ask, Master Geoffrey," 
replied the man-at-arms with a sly wink. 
" 'Tis but an old trick, known to all hardened 
campaigners. Food and drink we must have 
at all costs, and when the goodwife hath 
finished gossiping with her neighbour she can 
discover her loss with as much good grace as 
it pleaseth her. Certes ! The miracle of the 
vanishing loaves of St. Valery will be a subject of 
discourse for a long time to come, I trow. But, 
come now, let us eat." 

When darkness set in the three comrades 



SEIZING THE FISHING BOAT 147 

waited till the last visible light was extinguished 
and the village plunged into slumber. Then 
cautiously they made their way to the little 
quay, against which half a score of strongly- 
built fishing boats and traders were fastened. 

It was now just after high water, and already 
a steady current was setting out of the harbour. 

" This one will suit our purpose,'' whispered 
Gripwell, pointing to a stout craft of about 
thirty feet in length, that lay in the outermost 
tier. " Tread softly, for the least sound will 
betray us." 

Without mishap Geoffrey clambered over the 
deck of an intervening ship and gained the 
planks of the craft Arnold had indicated. She 
was of good beam, entirely open amidships, 
with a deck fore and aft, under which were two 
small cuddies for the accommodation of her 
crew and for the stowing of gear. 

" Cast off yon rope," whispered Gripwell. 
" Yarety now, or we shall be left by the tide ; 
I can touch bottom with an oar." 

Swiftly the two restraining hawsers were 
unbent, and the boat began to glide stern 
foremost towards the open sea. 

Seizing an oar Arnold worked with powerful 
yet silent strokes, till the craft's bow was turned 
seaward. Twice or thrice her keel scraped 
against the rocky bed of the stream, but, greatly 
to the new crew's relief, the strong ebb swept 
her clear, and soon the water began to deepen. 

" Hist ! " exclaimed Oswald. " Another boat 
comes this way." 

With beads of sweat standing out on his fore- 



148 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

head the man-at-arms peered through the 
darkness. The squire was right. A huge un- 
wieldy craft, propelled by oars, was slowly 
stemming the tide. 

*' Take the tiller and keep her so,'' exclaimed 
Arnold, placing Geoffrey's hand upon the long, 
wooden pole. " Say not a word." 

Resuming their oars Oswald and the old soldier 
urged the boat as swiftly as they were able, 
exercising due caution to prevent the sound of 
their blades from being heard. 

" The Jean Baptiste is abroad late this night," 
shouted a gruff voice as the two craft swept past 
each other at less than twenty yards' dis- 
tance. 

Grip well could not trust himself to speak. 
Bending over his oar he grunted something 
incoherently. 

'' Heed him not, Simon. He hath been 
drinking. Old Jacques is ever surly in his cups. 
May the blessed Peter see to it that he tears his 
nets on the Roches d'Ailly." 

" r faith," exclaimed Gripwell as the boats 
drew be3'ond earshot. ' ' 'Twas a narrow escape. 
Bear witness, young sirs, how the proverb 
' One man's meat is another man's poison ' can 
be reversed. But now we are clear of the land, 
and the breeze is beginning to make itself felt. 
Stay where thou art at the helm. Master Geof- 
frey — nay, 'twill be best for thy companion 
to take the tiller, seeing that he is hurt. There- 
upon, I pray thee, bear a hand with this sail." 

Not without infinite trouble Geoffrey and the 
man-at-arms succeeded in hoisting the heavy 



SEIZING THE FISHING BOAT 149 

yard and its huge brown sail. Then, heeHng 
to the steady breeze, the httle craft began to 
shp quickly through the water. 

" That is well,'' ejaculated Arnold as he 
relieved Oswald at the helm. " Another twelve 
hours at this speed and we ought to sight the 
white cliffs of England." 

'' How canst thou make sure of the way ? " 
asked Oswald, doubtful of the old soldier's skill 
in seamanship. 

" Mark yon pennon," rephed Grip well, point- 
ing to a fluttering streamer at the masthead. 
" So long as that keeps ahead and the wind 
holds true, all will be well. 'Tis a wide mark 
from Dover to the Wight, and it matters little 
at what part we touch." 

Throughout the short June night the lads 
remained on deck, dozing at intervals in spite 
of their lengthy rest in the rye-field hard by the 
village of St. Valery, yet filled with joy at the 
thought that they were being borne rapidly 
homewards. 

At length the day dawned. Eagerly Grip well 
scanned the horizon, but to his great satisfac- 
tion not a sail broke the sky-line. The low 
white cliffs of France, too, had vanished beneath 
the encircling rim of trackless sea. 

In the growing light the adventurers were able 
to make a thorough inspection of the stolen 
craft. Anxious to husband their scanty stores, 
Gripwell hoped to find some kind of provisions 
on board. Accordingly he handed the helm to 
Oswald, and telling Geoffrey to explore the 
after cuddy, he clambered forward to investi- 



150 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

gate the contents of the place that did duty for 
the forepeak. 

Placing his hands upon the coamings of the 
little hatch Geoffrey lowered himself into the 
dark recesses of the cuddy. Bewildered by the 
sudden transition from daylight to almost pitch 
darkness, he stood upon the floor, his shoulders 
bent to save his head from contact with the 
low deck-beams, waiting till his eyes became 
accustomed to the gloom. 

An unexpected lurch of the little craft caused 
him to lose his balance, and the next instant he 
was thrown violently against the side of the 
cuddy. Struggling to regain his balance Geof- 
frey thrust out his hands, and to his utter 
astonishment his fingers closed upon the throat 
of a human being. 

Ere the lad could realize his position he was 
seized in a powerful grip, and, beyond a stran- 
gled shout from his unseen antagonist, the two 
silently engaged in a desperate struggle. In- 
terlocked in an unyielding grip tney swayed 
to and fro, each adversary trying to bend the 
back of his antagonist. 

Attracted by the scuffling Arnold came run- 
ning aft. In his haste he had forgotten to bring 
his arms, and well it was that this was the case, 
for on gaining the hatchway he could only per- 
ceive two unrecognizable struggling forms. 

Cold steel would have been equally dangerous 
to friend or foe. Ail that Grip well could do 
was to lie full length on the deck, ready with 
outstretched arm to aid the English lad the 
moment he could be sure of him. 



SEIZING THE FISHING BOAT 151 

In spite of the obvious disadvantage of being 
attacked in unfamiliar surroundings Geoffrey 
stoutly maintained his own, but the strength 
and endurance of his unseen foe seemed inex- 
haustible. At length the lad bethought him 
of a trick taught him by one of the archers of 
the garrison of the Castle of Warblington many 
months agone. 

Hitherto he had been striving to force his 
enemy backwards, but suddenly he changed his 
thrusting motion into a lift. In this he was 
aided by his antagonist's own efforts to resist 
the previous mode of attack, and with a mighty 
heave Geoffrey raised his foe from the floor. 

With a dull crash the fellow's skull struck the 
deck-beams overhead, and a convulsive twitch- 
ing of his limbs followed by an unmistakable 
limpness showed Geoffrey that he had stunned 
his adversary. 

Breathless and well-nigh exhausted the Eng- 
lish lad gained the deck, where he lay filling 
his lungs with the pure, salt-laden air. 

Meanwhile Arnold had descended the hatch- 
way and unceremoniously dragged the senseless 
body of the mysterious occupant of the cuddy 
into the light of day. 

A cry of surprise burst from Geoffrey's lips ; 
his late antagonist was a youth of about his 
own age. 

" 'Tis a Norman fisher-lad," exclaimed Grip- 
well. " He must have been hiding ever since 
we laid hands on this craft. But, what is to 
be done with him ? " 

"He is my prisoner by the right of con- 



152 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

quest," replied Geoffrey. " Tis not in my mind 
to do him further scath, for, certes, he hath held 
his own as manfully as any Englishman." 

Ere long the young Norman recovered his 
senses, and finding that he was being kindly 
treated and that he was not to be thrown over- 
board — a common practice in mediaeval days 
when vanquished shipmen were ruthlessl}. jetti- 
soned — he became quite communicative. 

He had, it appeared, stolen on board the boat 
to escape the wrath of his master, whose enmity 
he had roused. Overcome by sleep he had 
slumbered soundly throughout the night, un- 
disturbed, even by the noise of the footsteps of 
Gripwell and his two youthful companions, till 
he felt Geoffrey's fingers at his throat. 

''Have no fear," exclaimed Geoffrey kindly. 
" We bear thee no ill-will. But, willy-nilly, 
thou must come with us to England ; then, on 
my honour, I vow that thou shalt be given a 
passage back to France." 

" Sir, I thank thee," replied the stranger in 
the patois of the Norman shore. " But, if ye 
hope to reach dry land in safety, I pray ye look 
to the sail. Already the wind increases, and 
ere long there will be a gale." 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE WRECK OF L'ETOILE 

" \ GALE coming — how dost thou know 

^/V that ? " demanded Grip well anxiousty. 

" I have not been brought up to the sea these 
last six years for nothing, monsieur," rephed 
the fisher-lad. " In my mind I can feel the 
coming storm. Moreover, did not Pere Gobin 
tell old Sardeau, my patron, that 'twould be 
hazardous to put to sea yesternight ? But, 
monsieur, since we are likely to be caught out, 
we must needs meet danger with a stout heart." 

" Thou art a brave youth," observed Arnold 
approvingly. " What is thy name ? " 

" Jean," replied the other simply. 

" What would'st thou have us do with the 
craft ? " continued the man-at-arms. Bold 
and fearless as he Vv^as he recognized in the Nor- 
man lad his superior in the shipman's art. 

" We must hoist a smaller sail, monsieur. 
Even now the boat is pressed over much." 

As he spoke a vicious squall, the precursor 
of the storm, began to thrash the water a bow- 
shot astern. 

Without a moment's hesitation, Jean, whose 
thick skull had received a blow that would have 
disabled many a man for days to come, ran 

153 



154 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

forward to the mast. Ere the hissing blast 
swept down upon the craft he had let go the 
halyards, bringing the heavy yard, with its 
bellying sail, to within a few feet of the deck. 

Fortunately Gripwell had the sense to thrust 
his whole weight upon the stout tiller to keep 
the vessel on her course dead before the wind. 
In a few minutes the squall had passed. 

Descending into the forehatch the Norman 
lad soon re-appeared, bearing a small sail rolled 
up under his arm. This, with Geoffrey's aid, 
he bent to the yard, in place of the larger canvas, 
and under easy sail the Etoile de St. Valery — 
for such was the name of the stolen craft — tore 
before the howling winds. Ugly, white-crested 
waves reared themselves on either hand, but, 
thanks to her broad beam and comparative deep 
draught, the threatening breakers swept harm- 
lessly under her hull. 

" Where are we ? " asked Oswald dolefully, 
for he had succumbed to the attacks of his old 
enemy, and was lying well-nigh helpless against 
the low bulwarks. 

"St. George be my aid: I know not," replied 
Gripw^ell. " But by yonder sun that tells close 
on midday, I perceive we are holding a proper 
course," he added, pointing to a faint light in the 
fleeting clouds that marked the position of the 
orb of day. 

For the next hour or two the Etoile de St, 
Valery flew before the gale, heading blindly 
towards the as yet invisible shores of England. 

Suddenly Geoffrey gave a warning cry, and 
pointed his finger towards the boat's bow. 



THE WRECK OF LETOILE 155 

''I see land," he shouted, striving to make 
himself heard above the roaring of the elements. 

" Thou'rt right," agreed Grip well, as an 
apparently unbroken wall of glistening chalk 
cliffs loomed up through the mirk. " But 'twill 
be a hard task to get into safety with this sea 
running. Certes, yesternight I would have 
given a seven pound candle to the altar of the 
church of St. Thomas a Becket at Warbhngton 
to be able to see yon cliffs, but now I would 
willingly give one of a score pounds not to see 
them." 

" How so ? " asked Geoffrey. 

" Since we know not on what part of the 
coast we have lighted, and not a sheltering port 
is to be seen, methinks we shall have much ado 
to prevent our corpses being washed ashore." 

" Can we not cast anchor ? " 

'' 'Tis impossible, monsieur," replied the 
Norman lad, who had overheard Geoffrey's 
question. " The stout rope that holds the 
anchor would be rent asunder like a wisp of 
smouldering fiax. Nay, monsieur, we must 
needs push on, keep the boat's stem to the waves, 
and trust to be cast fairly on shore. Alas for the 
Etoile de St. Valery ! " 

" Courage, comrades," shouted Gripwell. " 1 
espy a place where the cliffs dip somewhat. 
We will run the craft ashore at that point. 
Pull thyself together. Master Oswald. E'en 
within an hour thou mayst set foot on dry land." 

As the Etoile approached the shore the seas 
became shorter and steeper owing to the shoaling 
bottom. No longer did the stout craft rise 



156 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

easily to the rollers, but labouring heavily she 
took in water on all sides. 

" There are men on the shore," said Geoffrey, 
as a number of people armed with bows, swords 
and axes, ran down the steep gorge in the cliffs. 

" And a warm welcome they will give us," 
replied Gripwell gloomily. " Not a hand will 
they raise save to help themselves." 

The old man-at-arms spoke truly. Every 
foreign ship — ay, and many a luckless English 
craft as well — that had the misfortune to be 
cast on. shore was regarded by the lawless men 
of the coastwise hamlets as a prize. In many 
cases not only were their crews left to their fate, 
but any unfortunate man who reached the 
shore alive might be cruelly slain for the sake of 
a few trifles on his person. 

" Hold fast as she strikes ! " shouted Grip- 
well. With feet placed wide apart and body 
braced to meet the shock the man-at-arms 
gripped the tiller. 

Then with a crash that shook the craft from 
keel to masthead, the doomed vessel grounded 
heavily on the shingle. 

Thrice she pounded heavily, each time being 
cast nearer in shore, till with her hold filled with 
water, the Etoile settled firmly on a bed of sand. 

Desperately her crew held on, watching the 
callous spectators on shore, who, in turn, were 
waiting for the wreckage to be cast at their feet. 
Not a word was spoken by the shipwrecked 
men ; all they could do was to await the end in 
whatever form it might come. 

After a considerable time had passed in this 



THE WRECK OF UETOILE 157 

hazardous position Geoffrey fancied that the 
shocks were becoming less violent. Cascades 
of foam still swept over the craft, and already 
portions of the hull were beginning to show 
signs of breaking-up. All but the stump of the 
mast and the small spread of sail had vanished, 
having gone by the board soon after the first 
shock. 

Yes, now he was certain ; the tide was falling. 

Making his way along the steeply sloping 
deck to where Arnold was standing Geoffrey 
communicated the discovery. 

" Ay, it gives us hope," shouted Grip well in 
reply. " The boat holds together. In another 
half-an-hour we may essay the task.'' 

So saying he whipped out his knife and began 
to sever one of the ropes that trailed across the 
deck. It was a hazardous business, since he 
had to release his grasp upon the coaming of 
the hatchway ; but by dint of w^orking hard 
between the sweep of each succeeding breaker 
he contrived to secure a goodly coil of cordage. 

With this the four members of the crew were 
lashed together with a distance of about twelve 
feet between them. 

These preparations were observed by those 
on shore, for there was a decidedly hostile move- 
ment on their part, some going so far as to string 
their bows. 

" Look at them,'' exclaimed Jean excitedly. 
" They are about to kill us." 

" And these are Englishmen ! " added Oswald. 

Hoping to pacify the clamorous throng 
ashore, the man-at-arms shouted that he and his 



158 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

comrades were Englishmen, but either the words 
were lost in the howling of the wind and the 
roar of the breakers, or the shoremen were con- 
vinced that since the wrecked craft was of foreign 
build the crew must likewise be foreigners. But, 
whatever view they took of the situation, the 
mob showed no signs of abating their hos- 
tility. 

At this juncture a horseman appeared on the 
edge of the cliffs to the right of the gorge. For 
a brief space he took in the strange scene be- 
neath him, then, unhesitatingly, he urged his 
steed down the steep declivity. Often the 
intrepid rider was standing in his stirrups as 
the horse slid on its haunches ; more than once 
a mass of chalk slipped away from under the 
beast's forefeet and came crashing on to the 
beach below ; but the daring horseman never 
ceased his downward way till he gained the 
shore and tore up to the crowd of expectant 
wreckers. 

Although the new-comer was evidently a 
man of some position he did not, at first, have 
things his own way. Voices were raised in angry 
protest, twice or thrice knives gleamed in the 
air, but by sheer force of will the horseman 
succeeded in calming the more turbulent mem- 
bers of the assembly. 

This done he forced his horse through the 
waves, till up to the girths in water, he came 
within a spear's length of the stranded craft. 

*' Throw me yon rope ; follow me, your lives 
are safe ! " he shouted. 

With that Grip well heaved the line, and strug- 



THE WRECK OF LETOILE 159 

gling through the strong under-tow the four 
members of the crew gained the land. 

" Who are ye, and whence came ye ? " de- 
manded their rescuer. 

" We are Enghshmen escaped from France," 
rephed Grip well. 

" There, did I not say so ? " asked the horse- 
man turning towards the still surging crowd. 
" Fie on ye." 

" But the boat is ourn by ancient rights," 
objected a bearded fisherman, whose ears were 
pierced by a pair of gold earrings, probably part 
of the spoil from some castaway. 

" Let them have the craft by all means," 
quoth Gripwell. " V faith, we are right glad 
to see the last of her." 

"Where were ye making for? " asked the 
horseman. 

" Firstly to the shores of England, which, by 
St. George, we have made far too forcibly to 
my mind. Secondly we belong to the Castle of 
Warblington. Yonder stands Geoffrey Lysle, 
son of the Lord of Warblington." 

" Thou hast gone wide of the mark, good 
shipmaster," replied the horseman with a merry 
laugh. " Now ye must needs foot it for nearly 
a score of leagues ere ye reach Warblington. 
Ye are now at Birling Gap, midway on the shore 
of Sussex. Hast money ? Nay ? Then here 
is a groat apiece. Follow yon track and ye'U 
soon strike the great highway betwixt Dover 
and Southampton. The rest of the way, though 
it be long, is not difficult to find." 

" One moment, fair sir," quoth Geoffrey, 



i6o UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" To whom do we owe this right courteous treat- 
ment ? " 

" It matters not," was the reply, as the horse- 
man prepared to take his departure. " But 
stay ; if so be that ye have time to remember 
me in your prayers, men call me Wild Dick o' 
Birling." 



CHAPTER XVII 

OF THE COMPANY AT THE SIGN OF THE BUCKLE 

GLAD to have come out of their difficulties 
so hghtly, Arnold Gripwell and the three 
lads set out along the path indicated by the 
kindly Dick o' Birling. 

Reaching the summit of the cHff they turned 
to gaze upon the scene of their shipwreck. Far 
below them the crowd of wreckers and fisher- 
men seemed like a swarm of ants as they flocked 
around the stranded hull of the Etoile, now left 
high and dry, slashing with their axes at the 
planks and tearing away everything they could 
lay their hands on. 

The sun was low in the western sky ere the 
wayfarers crossed the Ouse at Seaford and 
reached the little village of Bishopstone. 

" Here is an inn/' said Gripwell, pointing 
to a long straggling building, from the upper 
storey of which a broom was displayed denoting 
the fact that wayfarers could find rest and 
refreshment. 

" Welcome to the Buckle Inn, gentles/' 
shouted the host. " What might be your com- 
mands ? " 

" A joint of English roast beef will not be 
amiss," replied Gripwell. " After that beds 
with fresh straw, an it please thee.'' 

\Q\ M 



i62 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

'' The Buckle is ever known for the quahty 
of its beds, fair sirs," repHed the host with well- 
assumed dignity. " I pray ye enter." 

The four wayfarers promptly accepted the 
invitation, and found themselves in a long 
narrow room, with low, oaken rafters black 
with smoke. Gathered around a fire blazing 
on an open hearth were nearly a score of men, 
clad in white surcoats blazoned with the cross 
of St. George. Many of them had removed 
their armour, and were stretching their limbs 
before the comforting fire. 

" Welcome, comrades," shouted a burly giant 
with a thick crop of reddish hair. " Sit at your 
ease and drain a tankard with honest archers. 
Whence come ye ? " 

" From France," replied Grip well, overjoyed 
at the sight of a friendly surcoat. 

A roar of laughter greeted his reply. 

" From France, quotha ? Nay, by my hilt, ye 
are going the wrong way. 'Tis to France that all 
stout-hearted men are wending their way." 

"Nor will ye find me backward in that 
matter," replied Arnold stoutly. " We have 
but lately set foot in England and are sore in 
want of news. Discuss with us, I pray thee." 

" Hast not heard that King Harry hath 
summoned all true Englishmen, knights, squires, 
men-at-arms and bowmen to assemble at South- 
ampton for the taking of France ? Such an 
army hath never before been equalled. They 
say that a chirurgeon and twelve others of his 
class are to go with us for the comfort of the 
sick and wounded/' 



AT THE SIGN OF THE BUCKLE 163 

" The first part of thy speech delights my 
heart, comrades, but concerning the latter, one 
leech in the field will, I trow, do more harm 
than a score of French lances/' 

" Thou speakest pertly, sir stranger. Me- 
thinks if thy comb were cut thy crowing would 
be somewhat less." 

" Give me a stout broadsword, archer, and I'll 
warrant, old as I am, that thou wilt not clip it." 

This was a direct challenge. In a moment 
all was confusion, some of the company shouting 
encouragement to the man-at-arms, others urg- 
ing their comrade to carry out his threat, while 
the host of the Buckle besought his patrons* 
to have regard for the good ordering of the inn. 

" The loan of thy sword, friend," said Grip- 
well calmly, addressing himself to an archer 
who was shouting himself hoarse on his behalf. 

" Take it comrade — but stay, where have I 
seen thy face before ? Why, 'tis none other 
than Arnold Gripwell, who clove a Scot to the 
chin with his own claymore at Homildon Field." 

" Then thou art Thomas Voysey, the archer 
who threw the ox over his shoulder in the 
market-place at York. By St. Thomas a Becket, 
to think that I did not recognize an old comrade 
ere this. Thy hand, Thomas ; when this slight 
bickering is over I'll quaff a tankard with 
thee." 

" Nay, I meant no offence," protested the 
man who had .^expressed his intention of cutting 
Grip well's comb. '' I have ever a regard for a 
staunch veteran." 

*"Tis too late to climb down, friend," replied 



i64 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Gripwell resolutely. "If so be that thou art 
unwilling to cross steel, let us discuss the matter 
in another way. I do perceive a bundle of 
stout staves in yonder corner. What sayest 
thou — art willing to try a bout with cudgels ? " 

Clearly the aggressor was anxious to avoid 
an encounter, but yielding to the clamour and 
ironical jeers of his comrades, he selected a 
weapon and stood on his guard. 

" Have at thee," shouted the man-at-arms, 
and the next instant the bout began. 

With a quick succession of dull taps as the 
cudgels met, both combatants warmed to their 
work. Blows were smartly parried and counter- 
strokes rapidly dehvered. Arnold's antagonist 
was younger and more heavily built, but he 
lacked the endurance and coolness of the 
veteran. Slowly, but surely, amid the sub- 
dued enthusiasm of the spectators, the elder 
man forced his opponent backwards, till, with 
the sweat running down his face and his 
breath coming in quick gasps, the archer 
lost all control of himself. Whirling his heavy 
cudgel he strove by a succession of powerful 
strokes to break down the veteran's guard ; 
till, seizing a favourable opportunity, Gripwell 
got home a shrewd blow on his antagonist's 
forehead, following it up by a sharp cut that sent 
the archer's weapon flying to the far end of the 
room. 

" Thou art the better man," gasped the archer, 
clapping his hands to his bruised pate. 

" Spoken like a sensible rogue," replied Arnold, 
throwing down his cudgel. '' My hand, com- 



AT THE SIGN OF THE BUCKLE 165 

rade ! Thou, too, shall share a cup with me, 
though I have but a groat in my pouch, of 
which one penny, is for my bed. Host, a tan- 
kard of thy best ale." 

Good humour having bee^ restored, the rest 
of the evening passed in story and song, till 
tired out with the crowded events of the last 
few days, Geoffrey and his companions were 
glad to seek repose. 

On the morrow it was decided that the man- 
at-arms and his comrades should travel in 
company with the archers, not only for the 
sake of protection on the road, but because the 
sturdy and honest soldiery, hearing the con- 
dition of Geoffrey and Oswald, insisted on 
sharing their meals with the lads who had under- 
gone such adventurous ordeals in the land of the 
Fleur de Lys. 

" I cannot see why King Harry — God bless 
him ! — should call his army together at South- 
ampton," remarked Voysey, the master-bow- 
man, as the company took to the road once more. 
" I am a man of Rye, my comrades all hail from 
ancient and loyal Cinque Ports, and seeing the 
distance across the Channel is lesser than from 
Southampton, it is passing strange that we 
should have this long march thither, not that I 
complain — 'tis a soldier's duty to obey orders." 

'' Nevertheless, to me the plan is simple 
enough," replied Gripwell. " By landing at 
Harfleur — a strong place, for I know it well — 
and advancing up the valley of the Seine the 
King can use his army as a wedge, to split the 
French kingdom asunder. Rouen and Paris, 



i66 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

rich cities, are likely to fall into his hands, and, 
mark you, the booty that is to be had ! " 

" Ay," replied the bowman, reflectively. " A 
man can cross to France with naught but his 
clothes and his arms, and return home laden 
with gold. 'Twas thus in my grandsire'stime. 
So now for a prosperous campaign, comrades ! ' ' 

Talking thus, the long miles seemed to slip 
by, and late afternoon found Geoffrey and his 
comrades in the city of Chichester. 

" 'Tis enough for one day," observed the 
leader of the detachment of the Cinque Ports 
archers. " Here we will rest till the morrow." 

" As thou wilt," replied Gripwell. " But since 
we are within half a score miles of Warblington, 
my young masters will be wanting to push on. 
How sayest thou. Master Geoffrey ? " 

" Right gladly, Arnold." 

" Then so be it. Comrades, adieu, and ma}^ 
we meet ere long on French soil." 

Amidst the boisterous and hearty farewells 
of the archers Geoffrey and his three companions 
set out on the last stage of their homeward 
journey. Along the well-known highway they 
sped, recognizing in every landmark an old 
friend. Quickly the great West Gate of Chi- 
chester was left behind ; then the Saxon tower 
of Bosham Church loomed up on their left hand, 
to bear them company till the fishing hamlet of 
Emsworth hove in sight. Then, joy of joys, 
the grey tower of Warblington Castle, standing 
out clearly against the setting sun, bade them 
welcome home. 

As for Geoffrey, the discomforts and perils 



AT THE SIGN OF THE BUCKLE 167 

of his journey ings were forgotten ; he regarded 
them as a closed page of his hfe-story. He 
reahzed that a new phase of his existence was 
about to commence, and that on French soil 
he would have a chance to win his spurs. But 
even in the midst of his day-dreams came the 
disquieting thought that, however creditably 
he had borne himself in his mission, he had left 
Sir Oliver still a prisoner in a foreign land. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

SQUIRE GEOFFREY 

WELCOME, Geoffrey. I bring thee 
good tidings," exclaimed Oswald, slip- 
ping from his saddle and embracing his friend 
and tried comrade. 

It was a month after Geoffrey's home-coming, 
but during that period much had taken place. 

The Lady Bertha had warmly welcomed her 
son, whom she had almost given up as lost. 
Concerning Sir Oliver her anxieties were greatly 
relieved, since she now knew that he had effected 
his escape from the clutches of the Lord of 
Malevereux. Sir Raoul d'Aulx, her husband's 
captor, she also realized to be an upright and 
gentle knight, in whose hands Sir Oliver would 
be sure of honourable treatment. The loss of 
Taillemartel she regarded with equanimity, 
since the fief was ever a source of anxiety and 
trouble. 

'' Taking all things into account, Geoffrey," 
said the chatelaine, " I have much to be thank- 
ful for. Next to thy father's life his liberty is 
most to be desired, but for the nonce I must rest 
content. But, another matter : since it is our 
noble King's pleasure to lead an army into 
France, it is the duty of his loyal subjects to 
make sacrifices to that end. Had thy father 

168 



SQUIRE GEOFFREY 169 

been here he would gladly have placed 
himself at the head of his retainers and led 
them to the rendezvous at Southampton. Since 
that is impossible, and that our men and archers 
must go nevertheless, 'tis fitting that, as thy 
father's heir, thou should'st lead them. Now, 
art willing to do so ? Remember, unless thy 
heart be in thy work 'tis labour in vain." 

" Madame, such is my ardent desire," replied 
Geoffrey, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm. 

" I expected no other answer, my son. Go, 
and may the saints protect thee. Of the 
nineteen men-at-arms, fifteen are to join the 
King's army ; of the thirty and seven archers 
I purpose keeping but five. Thus the quota 
provided by the Manor of Warblington will 
number forty-seven men under Oswald and 
thyself, too few to form an independent company. 
Therefore I have asked Sir Thomas Carberry 
to allow our men to muster under his banner. 
If he be willing — and I have no doubt to the 
contrary — his reply will be forthcoming ere 
night, for Oswald hath ridden over to Portchester 
this morn." 

" I crave thy patience on a small yet weighty 
matter, mother," exclaimed Geoffrey. " What 
is thy wish concerning Jean ? " 

" The Norman fisher-lad whom thou hast 
brought overseas ? 'Twould be unseemly to 
send him back to France with thee. I have 
already spoken to the lad, and, by St. George, 
he is no patriot. Doubtless he finds himself 
well treated here, for with tears in his eyes he 
besought^ me to keep him here at Warbling- 



170 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

ton. Therefore 'tis m}^ purpose to place him 
under the charge of Herbert the falconer, since 
for a Norman peasant lad he showeth great 
promise." 

" On that score, then, my mind is easy," re- 
plied Geoffrey. " And now tell me, when do 
we set out for Southampton? " 

" The King's orders are that the troops 
assemble on the Feast of St. Christopher, the 
twenty-sixth day of the present month. That 
is but four days off, and it would ill-become 
the retainers of Sir Oliver were they not the 
foremost of the fore, since the men of Hamp- 
shire are ever amongst the first to obey the call 
to arms. Therefore, by the day after to-morrow 
thou must bid me farewell." 

It was at this juncture that Oswald Steyning 
came to Warblington with the words, " Wel- 
come, Geoffrey. I bring thee good tidings." 

" Ay, Oswald, I have already heard the 
news. I am to serve my lord the King in the 
field." 

" Then thou hast but heard a moiety. Sir 
Thomas Carberry sends greeting to the Lady 
Bertha, and expresses his regard for the courtesy 
of the Chatelaine of Warblington in entrusting 
her contingent to his care. Moreover, he offers 
thee, Geofirey, the post of second squire to 
attend upon his person." 

" Good news ! Good news indeed ! " ex- 
claimed Geoffrey. " Thou and I, then, are to 
be fellow squires as well as companions in 



arms." 



Save that I am a masterless squire," added 



SQUIRE GEOFFREY 171 

Oswald. " I would that Sir Oliver displayed 
his banner side by side with the crescent and 
star of Sir Thomas Carberry." 

'' And Richard Ratclyffe— what of him ? " 

"He is first squire to Sir Thomas, and will, 
of a surety, attend on him. But I saw him not, 
since he hath already journeyed to Southamp- 
ton to see to the ordering of the Portchester 
company's camp." 

During the remainder of the day, and the 
day following as well, activity reigned within 
the walls of Warblington. Though every man 
had been well equipped, much had to be done 
ere the little band set out to throw in its lot 
with the men of Portchester. Horses had to be 
re-shod, swords, bills, and spearheads required 
grinding and sharpening, bows had to be over- 
hauled, spare cords waxed, and barrels of arrows 
prepared. With the men-at-arms and archers 
twelve sumpter horses with their attendants 
were to bear the baggage as far as the camp of 
Southampton, while, by express orders from 
the King, smiths were at work day and night 
preparing iron tips for the stakes that were 
to play so important a part in the forthcoming 
campaign. 

At length the time of departure drew near. 
Having bade farewell to his mother, the chate- 
laine, Geoffrey, now accoutred cap-a-pied in 
bascinet, globular breastplate, steel gorget, 
greaves and sollerets, took his place at the head 
of the column, with Oswald, similarly attired, 
at his right hand. 

A spear's length in the rear rode Arnold Grip- 



172 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

well with a grim look of expectancy on his rugged 
features, as he bore the banner of the turbot 
and the three stars of Warblington. A close 
observer would have noticed a wavy black line 
running athwart the banner from corner to 
corner, signifying that the knight whose device 
it was was absent or prevented from taking 
personal command. 

Behind Gripwell rode the fourteen men-at- 
arms, wearing steel caps and quilted coats, 
additionally protected by iron plates, while at 
the side of each hung a two-handled heavy- 
bladed sword. 

The archers were on foot, each man clad in 
leather jacket, over which was a white surcoat 
with the cross of St. George, loose hose, and 
caps of either stiff leather or wicker-work 
stiffened with bars of iron. They were armed 
with the world-renowned bows of English yew, 
a well-filled quiver of arrows hanging from the 
right-hand side of their belts, while as a supple- 
mentary weapon every man carried a short axe 
or a dagger. 

In the rear were the sumpter horses and 
baggage, attended by a number of the tenantry 
of Warblington, who were to accompany the 
troops only as far as the port of embarka- 
tion. 

The first day's march was an easy one. That 
night the men of Warblington joined those of 
Portchester, and quickly the two companies 
fraternized, since they had much in common 
and little cause for dissension. 

As the combined forces were about to leave 



SQUIRE GEOFFREY 173 

the Castle of Portchester, Sir Thomas CarbeiTy 
turned to his newly- appointed squire. 

'' It is in my mind," quoth he, " that I should 
bestow upon the Prior of Southampton this 
purse of gold for the entertainment of the poor 
and needy during our absence overseas. There- 
fore I pray thee take Oswald and ride across 
the hill to Southwick. Thou knowest the 
Priory ? " 

" I have heard of it only, sir." 

" Tis easy to find, though the road thither 
be rough. Present my compliments to the 
worthy Prior and give him this. Thence thou 
canst make thy way through the villages of 
Wickham and Botley and rejoin us at the camp 
at Bitterne, hard by the town of Southampton. 
Have I made mine orders clear ? " 

" Yea, Sir Thomas." 

" Then set forth directly the troops have 
heard mass. Perchance I shall not see thee 
again until thou comest to Southampton, but 
these instructions are complete. Pass the word 
for the men to fall into their ranks." 

A trumpet sounded loud and shrill, and ere 
its long-drawn note had died away the eager 
soldiers were pouring from their quarters into 
the outer bailey. Then, to the accompaniment 
of a series of hoarse orders shouted by their 
under-officers, the men ranged themselves in 
close ranks. 

" Passably done," commented Sir Thomas, 
as, accompanied by his squires, he walked 
towards the centre of the column, where his 
standard was proudly displayed. '' There was 



174 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

slight confusion in the ordering of the Hnes, but 
ril warrant another fortnight will amend all." 

It was indeed a force that any knight of 
Christendom might well be proud of. Two 
hundred and forty men, the flower of the yeo- 
men of South Hamptonshire, were drawn up, 
armed and accoutred for active service. 

Some of these were old veterans, skilled in 
the craft of war, gaunt, sinewy, and stolidly 
alert ; others were middle-aged men, trained 
by constant practice at the butts in the use of 
the deadly long-bow ; while the majority were 
lads upon whose unwrinkled faces the down of 
manhood was beginning to assert itself. 

Beyond an occasional brawl, few of the latter 
had seen a blow struck in deadly earnest, though 
they were eager for a chance of winning fame 
against the hereditary enemy of England. 
Their lack of experience on the field of battle 
was all but counterbalanced by their enthusiasm, 
while the stiffening of veterans was calculated 
to have a good efiect upon the morale of the 
comparatively undisciplined archers of the com- 
pany. 

Having walked between the lines and carefully 
inspected the men under his command, the Con- 
stable of Portchester addressed them in a few 
rousing words. Then, as the prolonged cheer- 
ing died away, a tucket sounded, and every man, 
laying his bow, axe, or sword upon the green- 
sward, marched slowly and soberly into the 
church of St. Mary, that lies within the castle 
walls. 

Half an hour later the rear of the long column 



SQUIRE GEOFFREY 175 

had trailed beneath the land-port tower on its 
way to the wars, while Geojfirey and Oswald 
were breasting the steep ascent of Portsdown 
that lay betwixt the Castle of Portchester and 
the Priory of Southampton. 



CHAPTER XIX 

TREASON 

HAVING carried out the Constable's instruc- 
tions relating to the Prior of Southwick, 
Geoffrey and Oswald set out on their long ride 
to rejoin their comrades at Southampton. 

Both lads were lightly accoutred, their armour 
having been sent on with the baggage train, 
and in high spirits they cantered their steeds 
along the stretch of grass that bordered the 
narrow highway. 

Presently the open country gave place to 
dense masses of trees, the outlying confines 
of the Forest of Bere — the hunting-ground of 
kings, and the haunt of robbers and other evil- 
doers to boot. Yet there was little fear of 
wayfarers being molested in this part of the 
forest, the outlaws devoting their attentions to 
the more remote districts, where the power of 
the law, as exercised by the Constable of Port- 
chester, lost somewhat of its terrors. Neverthe- 
less, the two squires rode warily, keeping a 
bright look-out for a possible ambush. 

" Methinks I hear men's voices," remarked 
Oswald, reining in his steed and listening 
intently. 

" And what of it ? " replied Geoffrey with a 

176 



TREASON 177 

laugh. " Is not the road free to all, and may 
not a man talk if so he listeth ? " 

" Nay, but His like the shout of a multitude." 

" I can now hear it, though 'tis a long way 
off." 

" We must needs ride yarely, for it seemeth 
as if the sound comes from the highway in front 
of us. Let us therefore turn aside through this 
thicket." 

" Nay," replied Geoffrey stoutly. '* That 
shall not turn us from the highway. Should 
there be a band of robbers, 'twill be better to 
keep to the road than be entangled in the 
thickets. Let us set spur, therefore, and put a 
brave face on't, though truly I doubt that there 
be danger." 

Thus encouraged, Oswald increased his pace, 
and, keeping side by side, the two comrades 
drew near to the cause of the shouting. 

It was a strange sight that met the gaze of 
the squires, as they turned a slight bend in the 
road. 

On the right of the highway lay a broad sunlit 
glade. Seated in a semi-circle were about two 
score men, some of whom were yeomen and 
farmers, though most were peasants and wood- 
cutters. Although many furtive glances were 
cast in the direction of the highway, the main 
attention of the assembly was centred on the 
form of a speaker, whom the lads instantly 
recognized. 

" Certes, 'tis my Lord Cobham ! " exclaimed 
Geoffrey. " We have fallen upon a nest of 
Lollards," 



178 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

At that instant one of the assembly happened 
to catch sight of the two horsemen, and, giving 
a warning shout, brought all the crowd to their 
feet. Some made towards the undergrowth like 
startled hares, but for the most part the Lollards 
rallied round their leader. 

" They will do us no scath," observed Oswald. 
'' Let us therefore ride past them in peace. Yet 
'tis passing strange that these, forming an un- 
lawful assembly, should fail to set outposts. 
Had we been a troop of lances bent on their 
capture not a man would have escaped." 

The squire's resolve to pass them by was 
doomed to failure, for, seeing that they were 
but two wa3'farers, several of the men intercepted 
them. 

" Who are ye, and whence come 3'e ? " de- 
manded a burly miller, his garments dust}^ with 
the traces of his calling. 

" Peaceable subjects of King Harry," replied 
Geoffrey boldly. " Ye are, I perceive, of the 
following known as Lollards." 

" I trust that ye do not mean to betray us ? 
Otherwise " ^ 

" Nay, threaten us not. We would have 
speech with Sir John Oldcastle." 

Blank astonishment was written on the faces 
of the men who had barred the lads' way. 
Several of them muttered under their breath 
that they were lost men. 

"So be it," replied the spokesman briefl}^ 
and laying hold of the bridle of Geoffrey's horse, 
led him to where Lord Cobham was still standing, 
surrounded by the braver of his followers. 



TREASON 179 

"" Greetings, my Lord Cobham," exclaimed 
Geoffrey, raising his velvet cap, to which salu- 
tation Sir John Oldcastle courteously replied. 
" I pray thee that thy men give us free passage/' 

" Who art thou, fair sir ? " asked the knight. 

" Canst call to mind the time thou rebukedst 
the friar hard by the Castle of Portchester, my 
lord?" 

" Nay, is it possible that thou art the lad who 
stood by?" asked Oldcastle. "Thou hast 
grown somewhat, I trow." 

" Tis the same ; and my companion here 
was also with me on that day. In truth, sir 
knight, though I be a true member of the Church, 
thy action I could not but admire." 

" My work in that direction still remains 
unfinished," remarked Lord Cobham. " Behold 
me, a fugitive, thanks to the persecution of my 
Lord Archbishop. The meanest of these my 
followers might be the richer by the sum of a 
thousand marks were they to betray me ; but on 
that score I have scant anxiety. My destiny is 
in the hands of One above, and should it please 
Him to hand me over to mine enemies, His will 
be done." 

" Ask them to swear secrecy concerning thee, 
fair lord," said one of the Lollards. 

" Nay, I ask no pledge ; their way is clear." 

" Friends," exclaimed Geoffrey, " I tell ye 
this : concerning this meeting we two will keep 
our own counsel. Nevertheless, if the question 
is put straightly to us in this matter we must 
reply truthfully." 

" Bravely spoken, young sir," replied Old- 



i8o UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

castle. '' It will suffice me, though I trust none 
will ask thee if thou hast seen aught of me and 
my following. Now farewell, and the blessing 
of Heaven be with ye both." 

Geoffrey was fated never to see the great 
Lollard leader again. It was not, however,till two 
years later, in 1417, that Oldcastle was captured 
in the fastnesses of Wales after a desperate 
resistance. Haled to London, he was brought to 
trial, and even his former friendship with the 
King could not save him from the vindictiveness 
of the ecclesiastical party, for, under circum- 
stances of extreme barbarity, he suffered death 
by fire. 

For the next five or six miles the lads con- 
versed on the incident they had just witnessed. 
The road was practically deserted, and beyond 
the sight of a peasant walking in the fields, or a 
chapman ambling along with his wares, the 
two squires saw nothing to attract their atten- 
tion. 

Late in the afternoon they arrived at the 
village of Botley, where the horses had to be 
fed and watered. While the beasts were being 
attended to the clatter of horses' hoofs was 
heard, and swinging round a bend in the road 
came about a score of mounted men-at-arms, 
all completely equipped, while at their head 
rode a young man with a set, grave expression 
on his thin yet clear-cut features. 

" Greetings, fair sirs," exclaimed their leader 
courteously. " Canst tell me whether accom- 
modation is to be had for me and mine ? We 
are bound for Southampton to join the King's 



TREASON i8i 

army, but having travelled far this day, 'tis 
impossible to reach the town this night." 

" We also are strangers," replied Geoffrey. 
" And we, too, are for Southampton on a like 
errand as thyself." 

" My name is Olandyne, of Ripley, in the 
county of Surrey. Perchance, young sirs, ye 
will bear us company on the morrow ? " 

'' Nay," answered Geoffrey, after he had 
announced the names and qualities of Oswald 
and himself. " We must needs meet my master, 
Sir Thomas Carberry, this day. Yet I trust 
we may meet again on French soil, even if not 
before at Southampton." 

While the horses were being watered the two 
squires held conversation with Olandyne, who 
had, at his own expense, raised a troop of a 
score of men-at-arms for service with the King's 
forces. At length, the men-at-arms having 
found quarters in the village, Geoffrey and 
Oswald resumed their way. 

Hardly had they gained the hamlet of Hedge 
End than the sky became overcast, and a dark, 
leaden-coloured cloud began to drive rapidly 
against the light westerly wind. Then, Nature's 
sure warning, the air became sultry and motion- 
less, while even the birds ceased singing in antici- 
pation of the coming storm. 

" 'Twill thunder ere long," said Oswald. 
" Ought we not to find shelter in one of these 
cottages ? Our velvet cloaks are but a bad 
protection from the weather, and 'tv/ould not 
do to appear before Sir Thomas like two be- 
draggled varlets." 



i82 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

'' It is my mind to push on," replied Geoffrey. 
" Perchance we may escape the storm. See yon 
cloud bids fair to pass behind us." 

" Then as thou wilt, but it behoves us not to 
spare spur," replied his companion, urging his 
horse into a sharp trot. 

On and on they rode, Oswald casting anxious 
glances at the approaching cloud, while ever and 
anon the low rumbling of distant thunder was 
borne to their ears. Then a few heavy drops 
began to fall. 

" Thou art right ; we are fairly caught," 
exclaimed Geoffrey. " Were we campaigning 
in France 'twould matter but little, but since 
we may have to attend the Constable when he is 
received in audience by the King, it behoves us 
to take care of our apparel. I see a cottage 
yonder ; can we but gain it all will be 
well." 

As he spoke Oswald's horse tripped on a mole- 
hill, and with a crash its rider fell to the earth. 
Fortunately, the soil was soft, and with nothing 
more than a shaking the young squire rose to his 
feet. 

" Art hurt ? " asked Geoffrey anxiously, as 
he leapt from his saddle. 

" 'Tis naught ; but alas ! my horse." 

Oswald's exclamation called his companion's 
attention to the animal. The fall had broken one 
of its fore-legs, but without as much as a whinny 
the poor beast stood motionless. Instinct 
seemed to tell it that its days of usefulness were 
numbered. 

Having removed the saddle and muffled the 



TREASON 183 

horse's eyes, Oswald drew his dagger, and with a 
swift blow put the animal out of its misery. 

" Poor Firebrand ! " he exclaimed. " 'Tis a 
sorry ending. But let us hasten, Geoffrey ; the 
rain increaseth." 

Together the lads made their way towards 
the distant cottage, Geoffrey leading his horse, 
while Oswald bore the trappings and saddlery 
of his dead steed. 

Suddenly a vivid flash of lightning seemed to 
dart across their path, temporarily blinding them 
with its intensity. Geoffrey's horse, already 
rendered strangely unquiet by the tragedy which 
had overtaken its companion, became mad with 
terror, and, rearing on its hind legs, wrenched 
the bridle from its master's hand. Then, 
snorting wildly, the powerful brute galloped 
madly away, leaving the two astonished squires 
gazing after it in bitter dismay. 

" By the Rood of Bosham, we are undone ! '* 
exclaimed Oswald when he had recovered his 
speech. 

" We shall be utterly so if we tarry here," 
replied Geoffrey, as another vivid flash played 
upon the rain-sodden ground. " Let us run to 
yonder hovel." 

" And be soaked to the skin ere we gain it ? 
Nay, let us rather take shelter under that oak," 
said Oswald, pointing to a large tree that stood 
in a slight depression in the ground, half a bow- 
shot away on their left. 

The squires, ignorant of the danger they were 
incurring, made their way to the spot indicated. 
Here for a while they remained under the shelter 



i84 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

of the thick foHage while the torrential rain 
descended with terrible force. 

Ere long, though the tree afforded protection 
from the falling rain, the surface water began 
to collect in the hollow surrounding the base 
of the gnarled trunk. 

" Unless we want to be ankle deep in water 
we must climb into the branches," said Geoffrey . 
" So up with thee, and I'll throw up the saddle." 

With little difficulty Oswald obtained a 
secure perch on one of the massive limbs of the 
oak, and having, after one or two ineffectual 
attempts, succeeded in placing the saddle in his 
companion's hands, Geoffrey made haste to 
follow. Here, fairly w^ell sheltered from the 
wind and rain, the two squires waited and 
watched the vivid flashes of lightning, to the 
accompaniment of deafening peals of thunder. 

For over half an hour the storm lasted, but 
just as its fury was beginning to abate Oswald 
called Geoffrey's attention to a horseman ap- 
proaching their place of refuge. He was com- 
pletely cloaked, while his broad-brimmed hat 
was drawn well over his eyes ; but since he 
rode cautiously and without undue haste 'twas 
apparent that his object was not to shelter 
from the storm. 

" Say not a word to him," cautioned Geoffrey. 
'' Methinks the tree is a trysting-place." 

As the stranger came within the protection 
of the wide-spreading branches he halted at 
the edge of the newly-formed pool, secured his 
steed, and looked long and steadily in the direc- 
tion of the tree-clad valley towards Winchester. 



TREASON 185 

As he did so the squires saw that the lower part 
of his face was that of a young man and far from 
prepossessing. A perpetual sneer seemed to 
linger round his slit-like mouth as he impatiently 
gnawed his nether lip. 

Thrice he made a wide circuit of the tree- 
trunk, then, stamping his foot with ill-concealed 
impatience, resumed his vigil. 

Presently he was joined by two other horse- 
men, one apparently a person of quality, and 
the other a thick-limbed, low-browed retainer. 

" Greeting, Sir Thomas Grey," exclaimed the 
former of the twain who had just ridden up. 
" Didst think that I had played thee false ? " 

" Nay, but I must confess 'twas in my mind 
that if my Lord Scrope was daunted by a thun- 
derstorm, his words are more weighty than his 
actions." 

" Let that pass," repHed the knight addressed 
as Lord Scrope, with an attempt at sternness. 
" 'Tis no time for sorry jest. Hast seen aught 
of Cambridge ? " 

" The Earl hath kept within doors at his 
lodging at Winton," replied Grey. " Nor would 
he trust himself in writing. Yet according to 
his promise made when last we met, 'tis certain 
he will abide by our proposals." 

" 'Tis well. Now concerning Harry of Mon- 
mouth ? " 

" I know of a surety that he journeys to 
Walt ham four days hence." 

" Then he must pass ? " 

'' Through Stoneham and Durley." 

" Of that thou art certain ? " 



i86 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" As certain as death." 

" Nay, talk not of death," rephed Lord Scrope 
with a superstitious shudder. " Wilt thou 
bring thy five lances to the cross-roads at Horton 
Heath — thou knowest the place where the lane 
opens out beyond the pine-trees ? — then with 
my fifteen and the Earl's score of mounted men 
we can easily make an onfall upon this base 
usurper." 

" Tis not to be a spear-running to find favour 
in the eyes of our ladies," observed Sir Thomas 
Grey. " If we can bring the wolf to earth with- 
out scath to ourselves 'tis to be preferred. 
Therefore I propose to line the hedge with cross- 
bowmen, shoot down the King and as many of 
his retinue as possible, and put the rest to the 
sword." 

" And then ? " 

" The rest is easy. We must needs make our 
way north as quietly as we are able. The Earl 
of Cambridge will, in the ordinary course of 
events, proclaim the Earl of March, and with 
this puppet wearing the regal purple our future 
— by the powers of darkness, what is 
that ? " 

" What hath startled thee, Grey ? " 

" Methought I heard something fall from 
above." 

" A fine conspirator thou art, to jump at the 
creaking of a bough," remarked Lord Scrope. 
" Didst thou hear aught, sirrah ? " he continued, 
raising his voice and addressing his retainer, 
who stood barely within earshot. 

'' Nay, my lord." 



TREASON 187 

" 'Tis as I thought. Now to continue our 
discourse." 

Meanwhile the two squires, perched upon one 
of the overhanging boughs, had heard almost 
every word of the diabolical plot, save when a 
clap of thunder interrupted their hearing. In 
his eagerness to follow the conversation 
Oswald had leant forward, and in so doing his 
dagger slipped from its sheath. Fortunately, 
its point stuck into a branch below, and though 
discovery was averted, the dull thud had reached 
the ears of the younger of the two conspirators. 

" We have heard enough," whispered Geoffrey, 
touching his comrade on the shoulder. " Make 
thy way cautiously to the other side of the tree, 
creep along its lowermost branch, and when the 
next peal of thunder comes drop to earth and 
run for your life." 

''And thou?" 

" Art with thee, never fear." 

Three hours later Sir Thomas Carberry, Con- 
stable of the Castle of Portchester, was supping 
in his tent in the camp at Bitterne. The non- 
arrival of his squire and his companion had 
caused him no little anxiety, yet, reflecting that 
the storm had compelled them to take shelter, 
he prepared to retire to rest. 

Suddenly he heard the voice of one of the 
men-at-arms on guard raised in a peremptory 
challenge. The flap of the tent was thrust 
aside, and two breathless, footsore, and rain- 
soaked persons, whom the knight hardly recog- 
nized, burst into his presence without so much as 
" By thy leave." 



i88 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

'' Sir/' gasped Geoffrey, " we have happened 
upon a plot " 

"To do me out of my night's rest ? " inter- 
rupted Sir Thomas grimly. 

" Nay, sir, 'tis no jest. 'Tis a plot against 
the hfe of the King ! " 



CHAPTER XX 

THE traitors' DOOM 

EARLY on the morning of the first day of 
August Sir Thomas Carberry, accom- 
panied by his two squires and Oswald, waited 
upon the King at his lodging in the High Street 
of Southampton. 

Although King Henry had been in residence 
for nearly twenty days, his indomitable energy 
had compelled him to take long daily journeys 
to all parts of the county of Hampshire. 

Thus one day he would be at Portsmouth, 
inspecting the scanty defences of that as yet 
infant fortress. Then at Winchester, conferring 
with the city council concerning the raising of a 
loan, or at Bishop's Waltham, there to attend 
to some affairs that many would have regarded 
as too trivial to occupy the Sovereign's precious 
moments. But it was in things small as well 
as great that Henry was thorough. He had 
fully grasped the importance of the fact that 
attention to details brought its own reward. 

Early though it was, the King had already 
transacted a heavy share of work ere Sir Thomas 
Carberry alighted before the door of the house 
that sheltered his youthful Sovereign. 

At the moment of his arrival a deputation of 

m 



190 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the Honourable Guild of ]\Ierchants was leaving 
the royal presence — the senior alderman with 
his gold chain of office, the seneschal, chaplain, 
four echevins, and the usher, attended b}- the 
customary number of sergeants. Their faces 
bore testimony to the performance of a serious 
yet successful business, for the Guild had re- 
ceived the ro3'al assent to an important charter 
in consideration of the sum of twenty thousand 
marks — the lo^'al contribution of a powerful 
and wealthy community. 

It was King Henry's custom to receive depu- 
tations and persons of quality in semi-public 
state. At the termination of each audience 
property accredited personages were permitted 
to enter the hall where the Sovereign held his 
levee, and there to await their turn according 
to the order of the Ceremoniarms. 

Thus vvhen Sir Thomas had announced his 
name and style to the herald he and his atten- 
dants found themselves in the royal presence, 
a barrier of cloth of gold separating the waiting 
audience from the dais and a broad intervening 
space, where the greatest of the nobility and 
clergy of the realm stood about their Sovereign. 

Henr}' V was now in his twenty-eighth year, 
and in the full vigour of his life. He was slightly 
above middle stature, with strongly and hand- 
somely formed limbs. His features were oval 
in shape, clear-skinned, and surmounted by a 
thick crop of smooth, dark brown hair. His 
lips were characteristic of firmness, his indented 
chin denoted stubbornness, while sagacity and 
prudence showed themselves in a straight nose 



THE TRAITORS' DOOM 191 

and clear, brilliant eyes, though a reddish 
tinge in the latter gave promise of a stern, 
almost brutal, temper when provoked to anger. 

This was the commanding presence that 
invited Geoffrey's attention. To those sur- 
rounding the dais he gave slight heed, albeit 
there were Gloucester and Bedford, the King's 
brothers, Exeter, his uncle, Salisbury and War- 
wick, His Grace of Canterbury, the Bishops 
of Winchester, Exeter, Ely, and Norwich, and a 
host of the most famous knightly warriors of 
the realm. 

At the moment of the Constable of Port- 
chest er's entry a young gentleman of quality 
was being presented to the King, and, to the 
great surprise of Geoffrey and Oswald, they 
heard the name of their chance acquaintance 
at Botley. 

" Olandyne of Ripley, in the County of 
Surrey. Greeting, Master 01and3me, what is 
thy pleasure ? " 

" A boon, sire," exclaimed the suppliant, 
falling on one knee and kissing the extended 
hand of the monarch. 

" Say on, young sir, though many are the 
boons that we are asked to confer." 

" Sire, I have raised at no small cost a troop 
of twenty men-at-arms. These I respectfully 
offer for service in the field." Here Olandyne 
paused, unable to utter another word. 

" We see not what is the nature of thy request. 
To us it savours of a service most loyally ren- 
dered," repHed the King. " Say on — what 
boon dost thou ask ? " 



192 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" That I may be permitted to lead them in 
battle, sire.*' 

" Thy request is most reasonable, young sir. 
Since " 

" I crave your Majesty's hearing for a few 
brief moments," exclaimed the Bishop of Nor- 
wich in deep, measured tones. " It hath come 
to my knowledge that this fellow was formerly 
a monk of the Charterhouse, and hath broken 
his vows of charity, obedience, and constancy to 
the Order." 

" What hast thou to say to this accusation, 
young sir ? " 

" 'Tis indeed true, sire," replied Olandyne 
brokenly. " Yet the desire for a soldier's life 
overcame the choice made for me of service 
within the walls of an abbey. In sooth, sire, 
I could not keep the vow^s that were forced upon 
me. I " 

" Enough, young sir," thundered Henry, his 
eyes blazing sternly at the trembling form of the 
ex-monk, while the Duke of Exeter whispered 
something in the ear of his royal nephew. 

" Nay, Uncle Exeter, we are not ashamed to 
speak our mind, nor are we willing to offend 
Holy Mother Church. Therefore, Master Olan- 
dyne, thy services are not required. Thou canst 
withdraw from our presence, disgraced, but 
free from any fear of apprehension and punish- 
ment." 

Touting low to his Sovereign, Olandyne 
backed slowly from the dais, his face ashen with 
mortification, confusion, and anger. Nor were 
there few of the assembled company who had 



THE TRAITORS' DOOM 193 

compassion for the luckless man whose proffered 
service had been so curtly declined and whose 
visions of martial prowess were so rudely dis- 
pelled. 

" Ah, our trusted and much beloved Sir John 
Carberry/' exclaimed the King heartily as the 
Constable of Portchester advanced to the dais, 
followed by the three squires. " Well, Sir John, 
how fares it with thee ? " 

" Sire, I am a soldier and slow of speech. 
Words come not readily to the tip of my tongue. 
But, sire, on a matter of deepest importance 
I woulci speak with thee." 

" Is the matter so important that it cannot 
be declared in the presence of our trusty and 
loyal subjects ? '' 

" That is for thee to decide, sire. But if so 
be that thou wilt desire the Earls of Gloucester 
and York, the Earl Marshal, and His Grace of 
Canterbury to attend thee in private, I bid so 
bold as to say that my communication is no 
ordinary one.'' 

''Be it so, then," replied Henry, rising from 
his oaken chair. " Fair sirs, we would your 
presence in private." 

" Now, Sir John," continued the King as the 
doors of the ante-room were closed, "'tis no 
personal matter of thine, on that I'll stake my 
crown." 

" Sire, saving thy presence, my Sovereign's 
safety is mine honour, and mine honour I 
deem a personal matter." 

" Thou hast a shrewd argument. Sir John, 
in spite of thy slowness of speech. Thou 



194 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

hast hinted at danger to our person. Say 
on.'* 

Briefly, yet concisely, the Constable of Port- 
Chester related the treasonable meeting of Lord 
Scrope of Masham and Sir Thomas Grey under 
the oak tree, while Geoffrey and Oswald felt their 
hearts beat rapidly and their cheeks flush as 
their part in the discovery of the fell plot was 
unfolded to the royal ears. 

" This is no light matter," remarked King 
Harry at the conclusion of the knight's story. 
" Justice must be worked upon these traitors. 
Where are Cambridge, Scrope, and Grey ? " 

" Lord Scrope is in audience, your Majesty," 
replied the marshal. " Sir Thomas Grey was at 
his lodging hard by the Bar Gate but an hour 
agone. As for His Grace of Cambridge, accord- 
ing to this list I find that he is still at Win- 
chester." 

" Get thee hence. Sir Marshal," said the King. 
"Set a guard of archers to watch my Lord 
Scrope, without giving him cause for alarm. 
Send also to the caitiff Grey, and require his 
presence instantly. Should he refuse, then arrest 
him, otherwise let him come unsuspectingly. 
As for the Earl, send a party of mounted men- 
at-arms to Winton and secure his person." 

When the marshal had departed on his errand 
the King turned to Sir John Carberry. 

" By my halidome, thy squire and the squire 
of our absent Sir Oliver Lysle have borne them- 
selves with credit. Harry of Monmouth is slow 
to reward, yet none the less sure. Let them 
prove themselves by some deed of arms m the 



THE TRAITORS' DOOM 195 

field, and in due course the gilded spurs of 
knighthood shall be theirs." 

" Now, my lords,*' he continued, " let us return 
to the council chamber. Not a word nor a look 
must be given to show that aught is amiss till 
Grey is confronted with his partners in their 
most abhorrent guilt." 

On returning to the larger hall the King 
resumed his reception, devoting his attention 
to every suitor who sought a hearing, though at 
intervals his glance was directed at the throng 
behind the barriers, where the traitor Scrope 
was a conspicuous figure. 

At length Sir Thomas Grey, who had evidently 
arrayed himself with haste, entered the room 
in company with the marshal. 

" Ah, we do perceive our right worthy Grey," 
exclaimed the King. " Fonvard, fair sir, we have 
need of thy services on some small matter." 

Unsuspectingly Sir Thomas Grey advanced 
to the dais, where he stood awaiting his Sove- 
reign's pleasure. 

" We believe. Sir Thomas, that thou wert sent 
as envoy to our cousin of France ? " 

" Yea, sire." 

'' Let me think, who were thy fellow- 
envoys ? " 

" Sir George Pakenham and Lord Scrope of 
Masham, sire." 

" Is Sir George present ? " 

The voice of the herald in waiting was heard 
calling for the absent Pakenham, whom the 
King knew to be on duty at the Tower of 
London. 



196 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" Then, my Lord Scrope — is he, too, absent 
on affairs of State ? " 

'' I am here, sire," exclaimed the recreant earl 
edging his way towards the King's presence. 

If either of the two conspirators had had an 
inkling of what was in the mind of their Sove- 
reign, neither showed it. Grave and imper- 
turbably dignified they stood side by side before 
the dais. 

King Harry kept silence for a few moments, 
then with a dangerous flash in his eyes he 
exclaimed : 

'' Uncle Exeter, thou knowest thy duty.'' 

'' Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, I arrest 
thee for high treason. Thomas Grey, knight 
of Northumberland, I arrest thee also for high 
treason." 

A tense silence fell upon the assembly, broken 
at length by movement of the King's body-guard 
of archers as they advanced to seize the two 
traitors. As for Lord Scrope, he sullenly sub- 
mitted to be bound, but Grey's hand flew to his 
sword-hilt. The weapon flashed dully in the 
subdued light, but a soldier's hand grasped the 
knight's wrist in a vice-like grip ; the steel 
clanked upon the oaken floor, and in a twinkhng 
the second traitor was secured. 

The fate that befel the three conspirators is 
a matter of history. Cambridge, Scrope, and 
Grey were brought to a hasty trial, and con- 
demned on the 2nd day of August, 1415. The 
same day Grey was led on foot from the Water- 
gate to the North Gate, and there beheaded. 
On the 5th of the same month the Earl of Cam- 



THE TRAITORS^ DOOM 197 

bridge walked the same route, while his meaner 
partner in crime, Lord Scrope, was drawn to 
the North Gate on a hurdle, where both paid 
the death penalty. 

The earl's body was buried in God's House, 
in the town of Southampton, while the heads of 
Scrope and Grey were sent to York and New- 
castle respectively, where they were exhibited 
as a stern warning to those who sought to plot 
against their lawful Sovereign. 

On the same evening of the earl's trial Geoffrey 
and Oswald were walking by the shore near the 
Watergate, when their attention was drawn 
to a young man vehemently bargaining with the 
master of a fishing-boat. 

'' For forty marks I'll set thee ashore on 
French soil, 3^oung sir," exclaimed the seaman 
decisively. '' Not a groat less." 

'' Then do so, for before heaven I have for- 
sworn the land of my birth." 

Instinctively Geoffrey gripped his comrade's 
arm. The voice was that of the ex-monk 
Olandyne. 



CHAPTER XXI 

HOW GEOFFREY FARED AT THE SIEGE OF 
HARFLEUR 

IT was an unwonted sight that met the eyes 
of the burghers of Harfleur on the morning 
of the 14th day of August, 1415. From the 
Rade de Caen to the Rade de Havre the estuary 
of the Seine was dotted with sails — not those of 
peaceful merchantmen, but of the ships of the 
English invaders. 

King Harry led the van in a carrack with 
purple sails, on which were embroidered the 
arms of England and France. The sun glinted 
on the armour and shields of the knights of his 
household, while to add to the almost barbaric 
splendour of the royal ship musicians blew 
trumpets and clarions, with all the energy left 
at their command after a stormy passage across 
the Channel. 

In the wake of the King's carrack, and stretch- 
ing in irregular lines far to the east and west, 
lumbered the rest of the fleet of fifteen hundred 
vessels, till the wide estuary seemed choked 
with floating fortresses. 

On the towering forecastle of the Rose of 
Hampshire, Sir Thomas Carberry's own cog, a 
knot of squires and men-at-arms were eagerly 

198 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 199 

scanning the walls and towers of the still distant 
town of Harfleur. 

'' r faith, 'tis a vast difference since the time 
when we crawled in thither in the old Grace d 
Dieu/' observed Gripwell. 

'' Ay/' assented Geoffrey. '' But what think- 
est thou — will the citizens of Harfleur offer re- 
sistance ? " 

'' Not to our landing, young sir. Were they 
ten times as strong they could not hold the vast 
stretch of shore. But methinks all this host 
will not frighten them into letting go of their 
riches without a tough struggle. Mark ye the 
Jumelles — those twin towers guarding the har- 
bour ? Unless mine eyes deceive me, I perceive 
the glint of steel behind the battlements.'' 

" I heard it mentioned that five of our largest 
galleys were to make a dash into the harbour," 
remarked Oswald. 

'' Foolish talk," ejaculated the old man-at- 
arms contemptuously. '' When we were last 
within this part didst thou not mark two great 
chains trailing from embrasures in either tower ? 
Ere now, Fll warrant, those chains have been 
drawn up, so that no vessel can pass in or out. 
Certes ! Swept by stones, bolts, and arrows, 
to say nought of those new-fashioned bombards, 
no craft will remain afloat for five minutes. 
Nay, Master Oswald, therein thou hast been mis- 
informed, for a leader like King Harry, for all that 
he be young and daring, would not hazard a 
main on such a vain enterprise." 

As Gripwell had foretold, the English host 
landed without opposition, at a spot barely a 



200 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

league from the town of Harfieur. Altogether 
the arduous task of disembarking the stores and 
munitions of war occupied another three days, 
at the end of which time Henry commenced a 
strict blockade of the doomed town. 

Nor did he merely sit down before Harfieur. 
A double line of trenches and batteries at the 
most salient points were constructed ; bom- 
bards, firing a thirty-pound stone shot, were 
secured to their cumbersome carriages, and a 
heavy fire w^as directed against the walls. 
\ While this was in progress a mine was com- 
menced close to the northern gate of the town. 
Working day and night, the sappers pHed mat- 
tock and spade so diligently that on the third 
day of the siege the tunnel had all but reached 
the base of one of the flanking towers of the gate. 

To protect these underground toilers a strong 
force of men-at-arms was stationed in the 
subterranean gallery under the orders of the 
Constable of Portchester, who directed his two 
squires Richard Ratclyffe and Geoffrey, to take 
alternate duty in the mine. 

'' And mark 3^e well," he exclaimed. '' Ever 
and anon ye must bid the diggers cease. Then 
listen attentively. If ye hear the sound of the 
Frenchmen's spades speed and bring me word, 
or our labour is undone. They of the city are 
not a mere rabble of townsfolk to be despised, 
for both the Lord of Gaucourt and Sir Jean 
d'Estrelle are past masters in the art of war. 
If they have not already commenced a counter- 
mine, may I never again break bread." 

Just before midnight Geoffrey descended 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 201 

the shaft leading to the tunnel. The sullen 
glare of the torches threw a weird hght upon 
the naked backs of the diggers, the tarnished 
armour of the men-at-arms, and the timber 
props of the long, narrow gallery that reeked 
vilely of an unwholesome smoke-laden atmo- 
sphere. 

'' Hast heard aught ? " asked he of Rat- 
clyffe, who had hastened to meet him with 
evident reUef. 

'' I did but bid the men cease a short while 
ago," rephed the elder squire. '' All is quiet 
as the grave." 

Left to himself, Geoffrey slowly paced the 
tunnel betwixt the bottom of the shaft and 
the part occupied by the guard of men-at-arms. 
The heat soon became so oppressive that he 
removed his bascinet, placing it on a convenient 
baulk of timber, then wTapping a scarf round 
his head he continued his measured pace to and 
fro till he had completed twelve lengths of the 
tunnel. 

Then bidding the toilers desist, he placed his 
ear to the damp ground and listened intently. 

'' Methinks Sir John will have to forswear his 
bread," he exclaimed to himself, as the diggers 
resumed their operations. 

Thrice did the squire call a halt, but on each 
occasion there were no signs or sounds of the 
counter-miners' work. 

At length one of the sappers called out that 
he had struck stone. Making his way to the 
head of the tunnel, Geoffrey saw by the aid of 
a torch that the man had spoken truly. The 



202 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

lowermost layer of masonry of the tower lay 
exposed three feet from the floor of the tunnel. 

All that now remained to be done was to 
undermine the base and place explosives in 
position. 

" Go and carry word to Sir John/' ordered 
Geoffrey, addressing a man-at-arms. '' Per- 
chance he may wish to examine the stone-work 
ere the powder is brought hither." 

The soldier hastened on his errand, while the 
men continued to attack the hard soil with their 
spades. They had succeeded in their efforts to 
strike the base of the tower, and one and all 
were delighted with their success. 

Just as Geoffrey was on the point of bidding 
the toilers desist the floor of the tunnel suddenly 
collapsed, leaving a gaping hole, through which 
a swarm of armed men poured with shouts of 
triumph. 

Ere the English men-at-arms could draw their 
swords the foemen were upon them, striking 
down the unarmed sappers right and left. In 
the confusion most of the torches were extin- 
guished, and in the almost total darkness friend 
gripped friend by the throat, the cries of the 
wounded adding to the uproar. 

With cries oi '' A Gaiicourt / " ''5^ Denis a 
mon aide ! " the French knights pressed home 
the attack, while the Enghsh men-at-arms, with 
cries of '' St. George for England ! " strove to 
hold their own against the overwhelming num- 
bers. More torches were brought to illuminate 
the ghastly scene, and by their Hght men fought 
and died like wild beasts. 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 203 

Unmindful of his unprotected head, Geoffrey 
had drawn his sword at the first alarm, and had 
contrived to force his way to the front. Skill 
and coolness were thrown to the winds, and 
striking madly at the forest of opposing spears 
and swords, the squire strove to keep the foe at 
bay. 

Soon his fury began to tell on him ; his sword- 
arm was becoming nerveless under the strain, 
while his shoulder was bleeding profusely from a 
thrust betwixt the joints of his armour. 

Still he fought on, till he heard the glad sounds 
of the succouring forces that the Constable of 
Portchester was bringing up with all dispatch to 
the rescue. Just then a mortally wounded 
man-at-arms gripped the lad's ankle. Simul- 
taneously a powerful Norman flung himself upon 
the enfeebled and embarrassed squire, and losing 
his balance, Geoffrey fell. 

In the glare of the torchHght he saw the 
Frenchman's arm raised to deal a coup-de- 
grace, but with an exclamation of surprise the 
man checked the descending knife. A thousand 
flashing hghts danced before Geoffrey's eyes, and 
with a groan he lost consciousness. 



When the young squire came to his senses he 
found himself lying on a rough pallet in a dark- 
ened room. It w^as now morning. From with- 
out came the sullen roar of artillery, mingled 
with the shouts, shrieks, and cries of the com- 
batants, showing that the assault was being 
pushed home. 



204 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

By degrees Geoffrey remembered the events 
of the previous night — the opening of the coun- 
termine, the grim and terrible struggle in the 
subterranean depths, and his own misfortune. 
He had a vivid recollection of the arresting of 
the descending knife of his adversary, but be- 
yond that his memory failed him. Why was he 
thus spared ? WTiere was he, and b}^ whose 
agency had he been brought hither ? 

But the lad's throbbing brain could not suggest 
a reason. In vain he strove to collect his 
thoughts, till with a groan of pain and mental 
anguish he turned himself on his couch. Then 
he became aware that his shoulder had been 
dressed, and that a wet bandage had been tied 
round his head. 

Presently, worn out with utter exhaustion, 
the squire fell into a troubled sleep. 

When he awoke the sounds of conflict had died 
away. A slight murmur in the room caused him 
to turn his face towards the door. He was not 
alone. Standing on the threshold was a man 
dressed in a leathern jacket and close-fitting 
iron cap, while above his right shoulder projected 
the stirrup and part of the steel bow of an 
arbalist. 

In spite of his dress and equipment, Geoffrey 
recognized the man ; it was Gaston le Noir, the 
pilot of La Broie. 

'' Art awake, young sir ? " quoth the Nor- 
man. '' I trust thou wilt soon be thyself once 
more." 

'' How came I here, Gaston ? " asked Geof- 
frey. 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 205 

'' How earnest thou here ? By St. Denis, 
t'was by reason of the debt I owe thee, which I 
have been enabled to repay. Yet, let it be 
understood that 'twas more by chance than 
otherwise, for had I not seen thy face my knife 
would have been plunged into thy body.'' 

'' Then thou art the man who grappled with 
me, Gaston ? " 

'' Ay," replied the pilot shortly, '' I came 
near to slaying thee in fair fight." 

'' How earnest thou to be shut up in Harfleur ? " 
asked Geoffrey curiously. 

'' Young sir, I am ever a true Frenchman, 
therefore 'tis my duty to bear my part in defend- 
ing the town. Moreover, thy countrymen have 
burned the village of La Broie, and with it my 
house ; and, what is more, my boat has been 
pressed into their service." 

'' But when the war is over and we are masters 
of France thou canst return to ply thy trade as 
pilot." 

'' The English will never be masters of France, 
young sir," rephed the Norman fiercely. '' The 
greater the danger the stronger will all true 
Frenchmen stand." 

'' Art thou not a vassal of the Duke of Nor- 
mandy, and is not our king the Duke ? " 

'' A duke who wars against his overlord is no 
master of mine," retorted the Norman. '' But 
now, young sir, I must away. Wilt thou give 
me thy solemn word that thou wilt remain my 
prisoner, and not attempt to escape ? Bear in 
mind that on the occasion of the attack upon 
the English mines an order was given that no 



2o6 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

prisoners were to be taken. At great risk I bore 
thee hither, and if thou wert discovered by the 
governor of the town or his officers 'twould go 
hard with thee and me. Come, Squire Lysle, 
thy promise ! " 

'' Nay," repHed Geoffrey resolutely, '' I'll 
not give thee my parole. Yet rest assured, 
should I fail in my attempt to break away, none 
shall know from whose care I have escaped." 

'' Hot-headed boy ! " exclaimed Gaston. '' Thou 
wilt undo all the good I fain would do. Never- 
theless, I'll see that thou art guarded. WTien I 
am on the walls my man Philippe will stand 
without the door. Shouldst thou attempt to 
pass hence thy blood be upon thine own head." 

In high dudgeon Gaston le Noir left the lad's 
presence, vowing that since he had requited his 
debt he would not suffer his prisoner to be a 
source of danger to him. Presently he returned, 
accompanied by a heavy-browed, huge-limbed 
man whom Geoffrey recognized as being one of 
the crew of the pilot's boat on the occasion of 
his journey up the Seine to Rouen. 

'' Philippe, mark well," exclaimed Gaston. 
*' I have made a fool of myself by giving quarter 
to this squire ; yet thou and I must needs keep a 
sharp eye on him. Therefore, should he at- 
tempt to quit this place, do not fear to pass thy 
knife across his throat." 

Gaston's companion regarded the youth with a 
grim stare, while Geoffrey took stock of him, 
wondering whether in his weak state he could, 
by any manner of chance, prove a match for the 
powerful-looking seaman. Then, as the door 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 207 

was closed and barred, Geoffrey fell back upon 
his pallet, a prey to deep despondency. 

Though he appreciated Gaston's action in 
saving his life, the squire reahzedthat the man 
meant to keep his word. Then, as he dwelt 
upon the situation, Geoffrey began to see the 
object of the Norman's soHcitude. With the fall 
of the town, for fall it must, unless succour were 
speedily forthcoming, the inhabitants would in 
all probability be put to the sword for having 
offered resistance to their feudal lord. Therefore 
Gaston hoped to save his own life by proclaiming 
his good deed in rescuing the squire from certain 
death. 

Slowly the da3;^s of captivity passed, yet the 
vigilance of the youth's captors was in no wise 
relaxed. On the subject of the state of the 
siege they maintained a strict reticence, though 
by the scanty fare supplied Geoffrey knew that 
provisions were beginning to fail within the 
beleaguered town. 

Meanwhile the besiegers lay thick without 
the walls, and slowly yet surely advanced their 
trenches almost under the shadow of the battle- 
ments. But a deadly foe had made its appear- 
ance amongst King Henry's host. Dysentery, 
caused by bad and insufficient food and the 
September dampness, raged through the camp, 
till three thousand men, or one-tenth of the 
invaders, fell victims to the dread pestilence. 

Under these circumstances the King reahzed 
that it would be better to risk a few hundred 
lives in a general onslaught than to lose his men 
in the comparative inaction of an investment ; 



208 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

and on the eighteenth day of September prepar- 
ations for a desperate attack upon the defences 
were commenced. 

Eager to learn the reason for the unmistakable 
bustle in the besiegers' camp, the Lord of 
Gaucourt sent a spy from the town. The spy 
was detected, and on being taken before King 
Henry he was ordered to be hanged at sunset 
before the North Gate. 

Within the town famine was rampant, but, 
suspecting that some of the inhabitants had 
concealed a stock of provisions instead of con- 
tributing to the common fund, Gaucourt ordered 
a house-to-house search. 

One of the results of the examination was that 
Geoffrey was discovered in the house where Gas- 
ton had taken up his abode. But for Philippe's 
dulness of mind the young squire might have 
been regarded as one of the wounded defenders 
of the town, but instead the squire was seized 
and carried before the Governor of Harfieur. 

Closely questioned by the Lord of Gaucourt, 
Geoffrey admitted that he was a squire to the 
Constable of Portchester, and had been taken 
prisoner at the destruction of the mine, but he 
steadfastly refused to give the name of his 
captor ; and as Gaston had hidden himself on 
the news of the apprehension of his prisoner, 
and Phihppe had retained sufficient sense to 
pretend to be unable to throw Hght upon the 
matter, the culprit who had broken the orders 
relating to the refusal of quarter remained undis- 
covered. 

*'Away with him," thundered Gaucourt at 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 209 

the conclusion of the interrogation. *'To the 
tower at the North Gate. Bid the men-at-arms 
erect a gallows on the battlements and send 
a herald to the enemy. Tell them that an 
English squire is in our hands, and should they 
execute our spy this squire's life shall pay 
forfeit.'' 

It was a strange sight that met Geoffrey's 
gaze as he found himself on the lofty battlements 
with the shadow of a rough gallows falling 
athwart the shattered masonry. 

Around him stood Gaucourt and the chief 
men of the garrison and town, while in the 
background were the men-at-arms and cross- 
bowmen to whom the defence of the tower was 
entrusted. 

Below the outlines of the besiegers' trenches 
were spread out like a gigantic map, while upon 
the earthworks English archers and men-at- 
arms swarmed hke ants, shaking their fists and 
shouting in impotent rage at the men who 
were about to take vengeance upon their 
prisoner. 

Yet not an arrow nor a bolt was discharged 
from either party, for an hour's truce had been 
agreed upon, so that the French herald could 
place his master's proposals for the Hfe of the 
spy before King Henry. 

At a safe distance in the rear of the trenches 
clustered the tents of the Enghsh host, the 
largest flying the banner of the Hon and leopards 
quartered with the fleur-de-lys that denoted the 
royal pavilion. 

Massed in close columns were bodies of the 



210 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

English men-at-arms, accompanied by a swarm 
of lighth'-clad men bearing long scaling ladders. 
Amongst the banners of the knights who were 
to lead the desperate attack Geoffre}' recognized 
the star and crescent of Sir Thomas Carbeny^'s 
company as the Hampshire men stood to their 
arms, ready at the termination of the truce to 
rush towards the walls to rescue or avene:e their « 
young squire. 

At length, escorted b}' a guard of mounted 
archers, the French herafd left the ro3'al pavihon 
and rode slowty towards the to^^Tl. Hardly 
had he reached the innermost of the triple line of 
trenches when there was a commotion amidst 
the tents, and, accompanied by a brilliant train 
of knights, Henr}' himself advanced to direct 
the threatened assault. 

" How now, herald ? " demanded the Lord of 
Gaucourt as the envoy, hot and breathless, 
gained the summit of the tower. 

" Fair sir, the Enghsh king is not to be bent 
from his purpose. He bids me say that, accord- 
ing to the usages of war, he \nll hang our man. 
Moreover, if this squire dies on the gallows, th}^ 
life and that of a score of the bravest knights 
and men of quahty of this town will answer for 
it — ' not by the sword, but b}^ a hempen cord, 
be the blood of a Gaucourt ever so blue.' Those 
were the words of the King of England.'' 

At the threat of the rope the French knight's 
cheeks blanched, for, brave though he was, 
he recoiled at the thought of dying the death 
of a churl. Then recovering himself, he ex- 
claimed — 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 211 

'' Let not the King of England think to turn 
me from my purpose. Watch yon gallows care- 
fully ; if our spy is thrown from the ladder, then 
up with yon squire. I also will remain here to 
see to the ordering o' it." 

Meanwhile the stormers of the English army 
had advanced to within an arrow's flight of the 
walls. Like a gigantic spring the attackers 
clustered together in a vast coil, ready to unwind 
and thrust itself against the battlements of Har- 
fieur ; yet, though the truce was at an end, the 
reopening of the hostilities seemed suspended till 
the double tragedy was enacted. 

Bravely Geofirey braced himself to undergo 
the final ordeal. Come the worst, he was deter- 
mined to let his enemies see how a true English 
squire would die, cheered by the desperate 
yet doubtless unavailing efforts of his own 
countrymen to effect his rescue. 

Slowly the sun sank in the west ; longer grew 
the shadow of the lofty towers, till it was lost in 
the distance. Then as the blood-red orb dis- 
appeared beneath the horizon the gallows on the 
plain was not without its burden. 

The shout of execration that rose from the 
Frenchmen on the walls was drowned by the 
sullen roar of rage and fury from the besiegers as 
the men-at-arms seized the Enghsh squire and 
raised him on their shoulders. 

The fatal noose was already around his neck 
when the Lord of Gaucourt spoke. 

" Cast the squire loose," ordered he. " By 
St. Denis, I am not a butcher. The King of 
England spoke truly when he said that the spy 



212 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

had placed himself beyond the pale, but this 
prisoner hath not merited such a death. Take 
him to the quarters in the citadel. Ho, there ! 
Bid our men stand fast for the honour of France, 
for our enemies are upon us ! " 

In the midst of a guard of men-at-arms, 
Geoffrey, well-nigh bewildered by the sudden 
change of his fortunes, felt himself hurried 
from the walls and through the narrow streets. 
Even as he went he heard the air torn by the 
thunderous discharge of the bombards, while 
ever and anon a huge stone shot, glancing from 
the battlements, would hurtle overhead and 
bury itself in the midst of the crowded houses of 
the town. 

All that night the squire remained awake in 
his place of detention, listening to the rumble 
of the ordnance. Yet though the bombardment 
was continuous, there were no signs of an actual 
assault being delivered, and at dawn the cannon- 
ade ceased. 

Three more days passed, yet beyond a desul- 
tory discharge of artillery hostilities seemed to be 
suspended, then to the squire's inexpressible 
joy he heard the steady tramp of feet and shouts 
of exultation uttered by hundreds of lusty 
English voices. 

Ere he could realize that Harfleur had in- 
deed fallen, the door of his prison was thrown 
open, and Sir Thomas Carberry, attended by 
Oswald, Ratcliffe, Gripwell, and several of the 
men-at-arms of Warblington, flocked into the 
room. 

Unable to utter a sound, Geoffrey grasped the 



AT THE SIEGE OF HARFLEUR 213 

knight's hands, while his overjoyed comrades 
almost overwhelmed him with anxious questions 
and hearty congratulations. 

Thus a second time did Geoffrey Lysle taste 
the joys of freedom. 



CHAPTER XXII 

THE MARCH OF THE FORLORN SEVEN THOUSAND 

IT will now be necessary to relate the final 
incidents of the siege of Harfleur, after 
Geoffrey had been removed from the shadow 
of the gallows. 

All that night a heavy cannonade was directed 
against the doomed town in order to prepare 
the way for the grand assault. But ere the 
latter was delivered the Lord of Gaucourt sent 
a herald to the King of England offering to 
capitulate within three days unless the town 
should be succoured before the expiration of that 
term. 

Incredibly inactive, the King of France made 
no effort to relieve the fortress that had held 
out so bravely and desperately for more than 
thirty days, and on Sunday, September 22, 
Gaucourt, accompanied by the principal knights 
and burgesses of Harfleur, dehvered up the 
keys of the town. 

On the following day Henry and his forces 
entered Harfleur with all the pomp and magni- 
ficence of a conqueror, but at the North Gate 
he removed his casque and shoes, and with 
impressive humihty walked barefooted to the 
principal church of the town, where the Te 

214 



THE SEVEN THOUSAND 215 

Deum and Non Nobis were sung with the great- 
est fervour by hundreds of battle-worn EngHsh 
warriors. 

Having done his spiritual duty Henry's 
next care was to secure the captured town against 
attacks from without, and to take steps to 
husband his resources. Accordingly the cap- 
tured knights and men-at-arms were compelled 
to give up their arms and armour, and allowed to 
retain only those garments sufficient to cover 
them. Those who were willing to give their 
parole to surrender themselves at Calais at 
Martinmas were dismissed. A few who de- 
clined to give such assurances were sent to 
England with the booty. 

The English had, by sheer valour and perse- 
verance, secured the chief town and port in 
Normandy ; but in so doing their losses by 
wounds and sickness were so great that the 
primary object of the invasion — the conquest 
of France — was for the time being out of the 
question. 

Henry had three courses open to him : he 
could either remain within the walls of Harfleur 
till reinforcements arrived from England, or he 
could re-embark and give up the fruits of vic- 
tory ; or he could adopt the desperate step of 
marching along the coast to Calais, a distance of 
more than one hundred and seventy miles. 
Something had to be done ; so, with the glorious 
record of his great grandfather, Edward HI, 
to raise the enthusiasm of his men, Henry de- 
cided upon the third and most dangerous 
alternative. 



2i6 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

His preparations were soon complete, for the 
massing of a huge French army hastened his 
actions. Five hundred and fifty men-at-arms 
and twelve hundred archers were to be left at 
Harfleur to hold the town at all costs ; the sick 
and wounded, together with the artillery and 
heavy transport, were sent back to Southamp- 
ton, and with a bare seven thousand men 
King Harry set out upon his desperate enter- 
prise on the morning of October 8. 

" By St. George, 'twill be a question of no 
little advancement or a glorious death," ex- 
claimed Sir Thomas Carberry to his squire as 
from his position in the vanguard of the host he 
turned and saw the orderly lines of men breasting 
the hill beyond the town of Harfleur. "If 
we gain our end our deed will be sung as long 
as England remains a nation. Failing that, 
dulce et decorum est pro p atria mori — what 
say est thou, Geoffrey ? " 

" Fair lord, I am in accord with thee, though 
to speak plainly I would rather return to Eng- 
land victorious than lay my bones in the soil of 
France. What thinkest thou of our chance, Sir 
Thomas ? " 

" 'Tis not a chance : our future lies in the 
hands of One above. Yet, speaking as a man 
well versed in war, our position is very little 
different from that of the worthy King Edward 
III before Crecy, and, certes, not w^orse than 
before Poictiers. Mark yon line of hungry men 
clad in rags and rusty armour : I'll w^arrant 
they'll fight as blithely and as well as did their 
forefathers. Times and manners change, in 



THE SEVEN THOUSAND 217 

sooth, but the character of the Enghsh soldier 
will, I trow, ever remain the same." 

Day after day the weary march was main- 
tained, the troops sleeping in the open at "night, 
in constant expectation of a sudden onfall by 
the overwhelming host that was known to be 
hovering in the vicinity. Yet without any seri- 
ous opposition the English Army reached the 
mouth of the Somme, where Edward III had 
made a successful crossing on his march to 
Calais. 

But the fortune that had favoured his great- 
grandsire was denied the brave and headstrong 
King Henry, for at Blanche-Taque, the scene of 
the passage of the Somme, the French were 
massed in such a strong position that it would 
have been sheer madness to attempt the ford. 

*' By my halidome, my lords," exclaimed the 
King, when he saw the enemy's strength and 
unassailable position, "ere I left Harfleur I 
registered a solemn vow not to retrace one step 
while I wear coat-armour. If I cannot go on, 
here I must abide, but since I am unwilling to 
stand here and hurl defiance at these French- 
men, I must needs go on." 

To this deliberate vow Henry scrupulously 
adhered. On one occasion it is recorded that 
he inadvertently rode past a house that had 
been selected for his night's resting-place. 
Stubbornly he refused to return, and spent the 
night with his troops in the open. 

It can be readily understood that a man who 
rigorously kept his oath pertaining to small 
matters would be even more strict in the order- 



2i8 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

ing of greater things. He now gave orders 
for the httle army to turn aside and march 
inland, following the left bank of the swift- 
flowing Somme. 

This meant that the danger of his position 
was increased fourfold. So long as he kept to 
the coast his left flank was secured from attack, 
but directly the English Army marched away 
from the sea, it was liable to be completely 
surrounded by the ever-growing French host. 

For eight long days the English army marched 
slowly up the valley of the Somme, vainly 
endeavouring to find a bridge or a ford that 
had been left slenderly guarded. To the 
fatigues of their arduous march were added the 
difficulties of obtaining provisions in a devas- 
tated country, but encouraged by the personal 
example of their Sovereign the troops main- 
tained their courage and self-confidence. 

" Canst perceive yon castle ? " asked Grip- 
well of Geoffrey, pointing to the summit of a 
square keep that showed itself above a distant 
hill. " 'Tis the Castle of Maissons where the 
Count, Sir Raoul d'Aulx, holds thy father cap- 
tive.'' 

" I have heard much of Maissons, but never 
before have I perceived it," replied Geoffrey, 
shading his eyes as he looked towards the grim 
pile. " How sayest thou, Arnold ? Perchance Sir 
Raoul and most of his men are in the field. If I 
obtain my lord's permission to take a score of 
men-at-arms, 'twould be an easy matter to ride 
over to Maissons and demand its surrender. 
Without doubt the near presence of the Enghsh 



THE SEVEN THOUSAND 219 

army would frighten them into opening their 
gates." 

" Nay, 'tis not to be thought of, Squire Geof- 
frey," repHed Gripwell. " Hath not the King 
issued orders concerning stragglers and against 
affairs requiring the absence of any soldiers 
from the army ? Think no more of it yet awhile, 
for I'll warrant that if we vanquish the host 
that threatens us the gates of every castle in 
Normandy will be thrown open to the King." 

Reluctantly the young squire had to abandon 
the chance of rescuing his father, but ere long an 
event occurred that kept him fully occupied for 
some time to come. 

" Geoffrey," exclaimed Sir Thomas Carberry, 
who had just left the King's presence, " the 
time hath come when we must prove our courage 
and devotion. Dost mark yon mill, at the head 
of the river ? The red roof is to be seen above 
the trees on thy left." 

" Yes, sir," replied the squire. " Methinks 
that foes are in force there, since the smoke of 
many camp fires rises skywards." 

'' Nay, 'tis the fires of the wood-cutters of 
Peronne. But to the point : my company 
must seize yon mill at all costs, and hold the 
ford above but hard by the mill till the main 
body of the army can cross. See to it that the 
mounted men-at-arms only are to essay this 
task — of the archers we have no need. Now, 
hasten, for every moment is precious." 

Led by Sir Thomas Carberry in person, with 
Geoffrey and Oswald and Richard Ratclyffe 
riding close behind him, the eighty men-at-arms 



220 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

rode steadily through the open valley towards 
the ford. Then, as the company rounded an 
intervening spur of ground, the mill again 
appeared in sight. 

Scattered in and around the rambling stone 
building were several French knights, cross- 
bowmen and men-at-arms. Although placed 
there for the express purpose of guarding the 
important passage, it was not until the head 
of the English column showed itself that the 
defenders realized the danger. Standing in his 
stirrups Sir Thomas shouted his battle-cry ; 
then'v/ith a roar the horsemen thundered towards 
the ford. 

Ere the horses could gain the water sufficient 
time had elapsed to enable the crossbovv^men 
to wind their cumbersome weapons, and with a 
dull bass hum the heavy quarrels began to speed 
over and betwixt the Englishmen, some finding 
a billet in the bodies of the charging horsemen 
or their steeds. Now and again a horse would 
sink to earth, throwing its rider headlong, while 
those following had much ado to prevent them- 
selves from being overthrown by the still plung- 
ing animal. Sometimes a thrown rider would 
struggle to his feet and begin to stumble 
blindty after his comrades, but more often the 
thrown warrior would lie still and motionless, 
never again to hear the shouts of his victorious 
comrades in arms. 

Now the head of the column was in the swift- 
flowing river. The water soaked through 
Geoffrey's mailed shoes and greaves, but the 
squire heeded it not : his whole attention was 



THE SEVEN THOUSAND 221 

directed against a knot of mail-clad Frenchmen 
who were urging their steeds into the stream to 
contest the possession of the ford. 

With a crash the sharpened lance-points met, 
but owing to the retarding influence of the water 
the shock was not so great as that of the tilt- 
yard. Some of the less skilful riders were hurled 
from their saddles to perish miserably in the 
river, but the majority, casting aside their 
unwieldy lances, fell upon each other with axe, 
mace and sword. 

Of what happened during the next few mo- 
ments Geoffrey had but a dim recollection. It 
was cut, thrust, and parry, steel ringing on steel, 
horses champing and neighing, wounded men 
shrieking dismally till their miserable cries v>^ere 
stifled by the silent yet swift-running current, 
and above all the hoarse shouts of the English 
men-at-arms who were not to be gainsaid in their 
determination to win the ford. 

At length the melee thinned, and the squire 
found himself opposed to a knight clad in bronzed 
armour, and armed v/ith a long two-handled 
sword. Wedged firmly in his high-pommelled 
saddle the Frenchman had slung his shield 
behind his back, and, with the reins dropped upon 
his horse's mane, he was able to devote his whole 
strength to the wielding of his mighty weapon. 

A sweeping cut delivered at Geoffrey's head 
the squire caught upon his shield, with no other 
ill effect than to shear off its upper corner. 

Then with lightning rapidity the cut was re- 
peated, this time full on the youth's right side. 
The Englishman's sword barely checked the 



222 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

swinging blow that all but numbed the lad's 
sword-arm, while his counter-cut fell harmlessly 
upon the French knight's gorget. 

Realizing that the only way to avoid the 
seemingly tireless cuts was to get within his 
adversary's guard Geoffrey dug his spurs into 
the flanks of his charger. The powerful brute 
instantly responded, and the two animals were 
plunging neck to neck as Geoffrey rained a hail 
of ineffectual blows upon the Frenchman, who 
in turn endeavoured to shorten his sword and 
recover his lost advantage. 

Heedlessly the two combatants were edging 
down stream, till with a neigh of terror the 
Frenchman's horse lost its footing. Its hind 
feet had slipped over a shelf in the bed of the 
river. Scraping desperately with its fore 
hoofs it strove to regain a foothold. Only by 
his prompt action was Geoffrey able to save 
himself and his steed from a similar fate. 

" Help me, I yield," shouted the knight, drop- 
ping his sword and holding out his right hand. 

In reply, Geoffrey stretched out his gaunt- 
leted hand to grasp his vanquished foe, but ere 
he could do so the struggling animal's feet 
slipped from the ledge, and in an instant horse 
and knight were lost to view in the depths of the 
mill-stream. 

By this time the ford was won. Those of the 
defenders who had escaped slaughter had fled, 
save a few who, taking shelter in the mill, 
resisted desperately till slain to the last man. 

The Constable of Portchester's company had 
lost heavily. Fifteen gallant men-at-arms had 



THE SEVEN THOUSAND 223 

ridden to their death, while a score more had 
been sorely wounded. Ratclyffe was making 
light of a blow that, cracking his steel basci- 
net, had grazed his forehead till he was well-nigh 
blinded with blood. Neither Sir Thomas nor 
his squire Geoffrey had sustained injury, though 
dents in their armour bore silent testimony to 
the heat of the action. But the object of the 
engagement was achieved, for without further 
molestation the whole of the little English army 
crossed the Somme. 

" Ay, my lord, they bore themselves right 
manfully," replied Sir Thomas Carberry, when 
the Earl of Exeter complimented him on the 
gallant exploit of the company. " But here 
we are across the river, and Til warrant our 
difficulties are only begun. Yet mark these 
rascals of mine, they reck not the odds, so long 
as there is the prospect of a fight.'' 

" Then they'll have their desire ere long, Sir 
Thomas," rephed the Earl — " a fight compared 
with which this gallant deed is but naught. 
The fame of the English arms will ring through 
Christendom ere we reach Calais." 

" Amen," replied the Constable. " For 'tis 
for this purpose that we are here." 



CHAPTER XXIII 

THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 

THE English army had crossed the Somme at 
a distance of more than sixty miles from 
the ford of Blanche-Taque, where Edward III 
had made his bold stroke eighty years previously. 
To regain the sea by descending the right 
bank of the river would mean a march that was 
beyond the strength of the weary soldiers ; 
accordingly King Henry resolved to abandon 
his original plan and march direct to Calais. 

It was not until the morning of October 
24, that the invaders crossed the River 
Ternoise after a slight skirmish at the ford of 
Blangy. On and on they toiled, soaked by the 
October rain, half famished, and footsore 
through hard marching ; yet the indomitable 
spirit that pervaded the dauntless band never 
for one moment showed signs of flagging. 

On crossing the Ternoise the order of march 
had been reversed. The Hampshire companies, 
on whom the brunt of the vanguard actions had 
fallen, were ordered to fall in with the main 
body, while the advance guard was entrusted to 
the men of Yorkshire and Devon, under the 
command of the Duke of York. 

Steadily Geoffrey and Oswald trudged through 
the stiff clay that sorely impeded the progress 

224 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 225 

of the soldiers. The squires had divested 
themselves of a portion of their armour, that 
dangled from the saddle-bow of their chargers. 
In common with many of the mounted men they 
had temporarily given up their steeds to those of 
the archers who would otherwise have fallen out 
by the wayside. 

Twelve miles of that tedious route had been 
accomplished since the passage of the Ternoise, 
when a soldier, galloping madly on a foam- 
flecked horse, came thundering along the road, 
a shower of mud flying from the hoofs of his 
steed. 

" The enemy, sir/' he shouted as he passed 
the leader of the Hampshire companies. 

Already the vanguard was observed to be at 
a standstill, while the supporting troops ex- 
tending right and left were taking up their 
position on the flanks. The spirit of battle 
was in the air. 

Massing in close order the five thousand men 
of the main body moved to the support of their 
van. Cold, fatigue, hunger — all were forgotten. 

It was a stirring sight that met the gaze of 
Geoffrey and his comrades as they gained the 
brow of a low hill overlooking the woods of 
Maisoncelles. Before them lay a gently-sloping 
plain, flanked on either side by dense masses of 
trees, while across the open ground could be 
traced the narrow lane that passed through the 
village of Agincourt and joined the broader 
road from Abbeville to Calais, just beyond the 
cluster of thatched and mud- walled houses. 

But to the observers' eyes the lane was lost to 



226 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

view in the serried ranks of the mighty host 
representing the chivah^^ and power of France. 
Three bowshots off, at the very least, the enemy 
stood, barring the advance of the slender English 
force. 

S^^iftl3^ yet in an orderl}^ manner, the archers 
and men-at-arms of the invading army took up 
their positions. The men-at-arms, bareh" four 
thousand in number, were placed in the centre, 
the bo\Miien being massed on either flank ; but 
by mutual consent, for the night was beginning 
to draw^ on, there was no inclination to engage 
in battle. 

" The King's orders are that ye rest 3'our- 
selves," announced Sir Thomas Carbern,', as he 
rode up to his compan}^ " 'Tis nearly certain 
that the foe will not attack us this night, yet 
to guard against surprise let each man sleep 
in his ranks, \dth his arms read}^ at his side. 
'Tis a Sony- night, men, for rest, yet be assured I 
and mv squires wUl share the discomforts \dth 
you." ^ 

'' I heed not the rain, fair sir," exclaimed an 
archer boldlv, " though I be powerful hun- 

Good-humoured laughter from his fellows 
greeted these words. Geofire}^ recognized the 
voice as that of one of the \^'arblington archers, 
who in times of peace was a \Nild-fowler of the 
marches of Thorne}'. 

" Have no fear on that score, archer,'* repHed 
the Constable. " Already the sutlers are abroad, 
and many wains of provisions are on their way 
from yonder village. I do perceive, also, that 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 227 

on our right flank the men are Hghting fires. 
Gripwell, do thou send ten men into the woods 
and bring back faggots sufficient to last us the 
night." 

Quickly the men went on their errand, and ere 
long thick columns of smoke arose from the 
sodden logs, till the heat gaining the mastery, 
the dull red flames began to throw out a com- 
forting glow. Then, with the arrival of the 
victualling wains, drawn by peasants pressed 
into service, the camp began to show signs of 
cheerfulness, in spite of the almost continuous 
downfall of icy rain. Yet the utmost order and 
decorum prevailed in the English lines — a 
striking contrast to the boisterous laughter and 
merriment that was wafted on the winds from 
around the watch fires of the French camp. 

At intervals officers passed slowly along the 
lines intent on seeking out their friends, whom, 
perchance, they were to see and converse with 
for the last time ; priests and friars, too, threaded 
their way amongst the soldiery, hearing con- 
fessions and giving spiritual consolation to all 
who desired their ministrations. 

Thus the time passed till it was midnight. 
At intervals the rain ceased, and the pale moon- 
beams glittered upon the damp grass and the 
waving foliage of the neighbouring woods. 
Most of the English troops had fallen asleep, 
slumbering fitfully under the canopy of heaven. 
Others conversed in low tones, or offered up 
prayers for the safety of their comrades and 
themselves, and for the successful issue of the 
coming struggle. Still the French camp main- 



228 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

tained its state of revelry, for food and wine 
were in abundance, and, with every prospect of 
delivering a crushing defeat upon their numeri- 
cally weaker foes, the mercurial spirits of the 
Frenchmen rose high. They had forgotten 
their defeats at Crecy and Poictiers ; time had 
erased the memory of the English longbow. 

" The night drags slowly on," remarked Os- 
wald, drawing his saturated cloak more closely 
around his shoulders. " Would that we had 
something to do to bring some warmth to our 
bodies." 

" We'll not lack for warmth ere the sun sets 
again," replied Geoffrey. " But what discord 
those Frenchmen are making. Could we but let 
loose a troop of lances through the camp there 
would be no little advancement occasioned by 
the deed. But who cometh ? " 

At that moment a soldier walked swiftly 
along the front of the line of recumbent men. 
The moonbeams glistened on his armour that a 
long cloak failed entirely to conceal. 

" Halt ! who comes ? " demanded Geoffrey, 
barring the stranger's way with drawn sword. 

" A friend ! Why hast thou challenged me ? " 
replied the man in a deep voice. 

" 'Tis not permitted to pass without the lines," 
replied the squire. " I pray thee keep close to 
the fires, lest an over-zealous archer feather thy 
back with an arrow." 

" Thanks for thy warning, fair sir ; I will 
pay heed unto. But I pray thee, who art thou, 
what is thy condition ? " asked the man with a 
trace of authority in his speech. 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 229 

'' Since thou art a stranger 'tis thy place to 
give thy name first," rephed Geoffrey. 

" And if I refuse ? " 

" Then 'tis my duty to bring thee before my 
master, Sir Thomas Carberry," answered the 
squire, at the same time beckoning to two men- 
at-arms who were standing close to one of the 
camp-fires. 

" Nay, use not force, fair sir," replied the 
cloaked man. " To thy master I can give a 
good account of myself." 

" I trust for thine ow^n weal that thou canst," 
said Geoffrey as he preceded his prisoner, the 
two soldiers following to prevent a possible 
treacherous attack on their young squire. 

Sir Thomas Carberry was at that moment 
conversing with Sir Hugh Talbot of the Salisbury 
company, and on the approach of the party he 
turned. 

" Whom hast thou here ? " demanded the 
Constable. 

" A man whom I found without our lines," 
replied Geoffrey. " According to mine orders 
to detain all who might be thus found I have 
brought him hither." 

" Thy squire. Sir John, is to be commended 
for his action," said the stranger in an altered 
tone, as he removed the cloak from his head and 
shoulders, disclosing the familiar features of 
Henry, King of England. 

" Sire ! " gasped the astonished knight. 
" Thy pardon for my squire and for me — — " 

" Pardon for faithful^ executing mine orders, 
good knight ? Nay, rather let us be quick to 



230 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

recognize a stern devotion to duty. But how 
sayest thou, Sir John ? Thou art grown grey 
in warfare. What thinkest thou of our chances 
in the coming fight ? '' 

" A better chance the royal Edward never 
had at Crecy, sire, unless yon host have the sense 
to enfold us by their superior numbers. Yet 
methinks they will risk their advantage in a 
frontal attack, and neglect to make use of the 
cover afforded by yon woods." 

" Trusted men I have already sent to make 
sure of the nature of the ground on our right 
flank," said the King. " For a like purpose have 
I come to thee. Hast thou a trusty level-headed 
man or two whom thou canst send through the 
woods on our left ? If so, I pray thee dispatch 
them with haste, and let them bear me a full 
report within an hour. But, bear in mind, none 
but those who have counted the cost and are 
willing to undertake the hazard are to be sent. 
Thy zealous squire, there : he hath lurked in 
trees before to-day, as we know full well — per- 
chance he may be eager to repeat his exploits. 
But that is his affair. Fare thee well. Sir 
Thomas. . . . Stay — another question : What 
dost thou think of the spirits of the men under 
thy command ? " 

In answer the Constable pointed to the lines 
of slumbering men. 

" Sire, were there any who dwelt in fear of 
the issue of the battle, would they sleep so 
quietly in the face of danger ? Speaking for 
our company, I can safely say that their hearts 
are full of courage and devotion to thy person." 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 231 

*' 'Tis well, Sir Thomas. Thrice happy is a 
king whose people's hearts are his throne. Again, 
farewell, and may Heaven look favourably upon 
us this coming day." 

" Geoffrey, thou hast heard his Majesty's 
word ? " asked Sir Thomas. " Certes, thy ser- 
vice in the matter of the conspiracy at South- 
ampton he hath not forgotten. How say est 
thou ? Art willing to undertake this enter- 
prise ? Bethink thee ; 'tis a perilous service, 
and short will be thy shrift if thou art dis- 
covered." 

" Fair sir, I have already counted the cost. 
Give me thy leave and thy blessing, and I will 

go." 

" But not alone. Choose a burly comrade 
and get thee away. Remember that within an 
hour the King requires my report." 

The squire made his way to where Gripwell 
was standing, with Oswald and Ratclyffe. 

" Ho, Squire Lysle ! " exclaimed the man-at- 
arms. " Who was yon fellbw whom thou hast 
carried to our master ? Hast 'prisoned a 
hornet ? V faith, he swaggered past us as if 
he were King Harry himself." 

" 'Twas none other than the King," replied 
Geoffrey. 

" What ! The King ? A fine story to tell 
at home — if home we ever see — how that Squire 
L3^sle laid hands upon his liege lord." 

" Nay, let that pass," replied Geoffrey, " for 
I have other work in hand. Art willing to bear 
me company as far as the French camp ? " 

" Right willingly," replied the grey-headed 



232 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

man-at-arms when the squire had explained 
the nature of his errand. 

" And I, too, will go with thee," exclaimed 
Oswald. 

" And I," added Ratclyffe. 

" Nay, four are too many for a secret errand 
such as this," objected Geoffrey. " Now help 
me to unhelm, Oswald. My coat of mail must 
also be left behind." 

Swiftly the rusted armour was removed, and, 
armed only with a poniard, Geoffrey set out 
on his desperate errand, with Arnold Gripwell, 
similarly armed, to bear him company. 

In a whisper they replied to the cautious 
challenge of the alert sentinel, then crossing 
the bog-like ground in front of the lines, they 
gained the sombre recesses of the wood. 

Here the darkness was more intense than in 
the open, but by degrees their eyes became 
accustomed to the gloom, though at almost every 
step they stumbled over the slippery moss-grown 
roots that encumbered the ground in all direc- 
tions. 

For a distance of nearly a bow-shot the two 
adventurers pursued their way, till, plucking at 
his comrade's sleeve, Geoffrey came to a sudden 
standstill. 

For full five minutes they Hstened, striving 
to detect above the confused noise of the French 
camp the sound of some unseen foe. A sudden 
rustling in the undergrowth caused the lad's 
heart to beat violently, while his right hand 
clutched the hilt of his dagger. Then came a 
sharp squeal of pain, and a hare, with a stoat at 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 233 

its throat, tore almost across the squire's feet. 

Presently the twain came to a clearing, 
through which wandered a little brook. Here 
the ground was almost knee-deep in stiff cla3% 
so that both men had to hold the tops of their 
shoes to prevent them being dragged off their 
feet by the tenacious slime. The crossing of 
the glade was a nerve-racking ordeal, since 
neither knew but that an invisible foe lurked in 
the thickets beyond. 

Fortune favoured them, however, and un- 
harmed they gained the friendly shelter of the 
furthermost wood. 

Now they were abreast of the French outposts. 
Peering through the bushes, Geoffrey could see 
the mail-clad sentinels either sitting motionless 
on their horses or walking slowly to and fro 
to the accompaniment of a clanking and groan- 
ing of the joints of the harness and the squelch- 
ing noise of the animals' hoofs in the mire. 

The nearmost horseman was humming a 
chanson of Picardy, quite oblivious of the fact 
that two Englishmen were almost within a 
stone's throw of him ; yet, though the cordon 
extended completely across the open ground, 
through some inexplicable error the French had 
utterly neglected to hold the woods on either 
side of the valley. 

Resuming their cautious movements, Geoffrey 
and Gripwell skirted the second line of outposts, 
where a row of fires threw its weird light upon 
the crowd of soldiers, mainly engaged in drink- 
ing, singing, and gambhng, while the position 
of the two daring Englishmen was rendered 



234 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

doubty hazardous b}' the constant procession of 
varlets and peasants who were engaged in cutting 
wood to feed the w^atch-fires. 

Still the French camp seemed a long wa}^ off, 
though the silken tents of the nobles were now 
discernible in the glare of the huge pile of burn- 
ing faggots. 

" We have gone far enough/' whispered the 
man-at-arms. 

" Nay, 'tis m}' purpose to press on," remarked 
Geoff re}^ " Stay here an thou \\ilt." 

" That cannot be. \Miere thou goest I will 
follow," said Gripwell doggedly. 

" Then let us gather a bundle of faggots apiece, 
and set out boldly towards the camp. It is in 
my mind to see how these Frenchmen fare." 

Struck by the audacit}' of the squire's pro- 
posal, Gripwell could not but assent, so, hastity 
collecting a heavy load of wood, the twain stum- 
bled upon a path where numbers of soldiers and 
peasants were passing to and fro. 

Unsuspected the Englishmen joined in the 
throng, and, bending low under their burdens, 
jogged steadily towards the vast city of tents. 

" Ho, there, comrade ! " shouted a cross- 
bowman. "Bring hither that fuel; our fire 
is all but out." 

" Nay," rephed Gripwell in good French. 
" That cannot be. This wood is for my master, 
the Lord of Rougemont." 

This encounter showed that there was no 
suspicion towards a stranger, and, encouraged 
by the discover}^ Geoffrey and his companion 
walked boldly down the lines till they reached 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 235 

a tent that the squire knew by reason of its size 
and magnificence belonged to no mean personage. 
Two men-at-arms stood without the door, over 
which hung a shield emblazoned with a golden 
oriflamme. 

From within came the sounds of tankards 
clashing upon oaken boards, the rattle of dice, 
and mingled bursts of laughter, disappointment, 
and anger. 

'' Methought I was to hear a council of war," 
exclaimed Geoffrey in a low voice, " but 'tis 
a roystering crew.'' 

" Perchance in their jollity we may hear some 
smattering of news," replied Gripwell, and 
flinging down his burden with a gesture of utter 
fatigue, he seated himself upon it, with his head 
resting on his arms. Geoffrey hastened to 
follow his example. In the constant throng 
their action seemed natural. The two guards 
barely condescended to notice them, since they 
were some distance from the tent, which was 
that of no less a personage than Charles d' Albert, 
Constable of France. 

" A curse on thy luck, my Lord of Marie," ex- 
claimed an excited voice. " I have not cast a 
main this night. I owe thee two English earls 
and four knights already." 

" Nay, Falconberg, 'tis five knights by my 
reckoning. Without doubt these rascally Is- 
landers will be cheap enough ere to-morrow 
even, but be that as it may, one cannot ignore 
the rules of the game." 

" I cannot understand the Due de Bourbon," 
grumbled the first speaker. " Though I am 



236 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

willing to admit that he has prior claim to the 
person of the King of England, he will not risk 
his share of the spoil. Surely my offer of twenty 
thousand crowns and the Duke of York will be 
sufficient inducement ? " 

'' I am weary of casting the dice," replied 
Bourbon. " Ere dawn I shall be too tired even 
to ride down a single English knight.'' 

" Peste ! The battle will be over in a quarter 
of an hour. Our first division is strong enough 
to sweep these English off the face of the earth 
My Lord d'Alengon, the second division, which 
thou hast command of, must be mounted, since 
there will be no other w^ork left than to ride down 
and slay the light-footed archers. As for thy 
division, my Lord Falconberg, there will be 
nothing left for it to do." 

" Unless it be to shout encouragement to 
thy men," replied Falconberg vv^ith a laugh. 
" Alas ! these poor Englishmen. But let's 
proceed. Who'll throw with me for my last 
three knights ? " 

" We have learnt what is v/orth a bushel of 
gold. Squire Geoffrey," whispered Gripwell. 
" Let us away. As it is, the hour is wellnigh 
spent." 

Resuming their loads, the two comrades made 
for the nearest fire, and, having cast the faggots 
upon the smouldering embers, retraced their 
footsteps towards the shelter of the woods. 
On the way they fell in with a party of soldiers 
in search of a load of wine that had gone astray 
between the camp and the village of Agincourt, 
and, imitating their staggering gait and drunken 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 237 

song, they contrived to get clear of the line of 
tents without being challenged. Then, taking 
advantage of the narrow path through the forest, 
the two comrades succeeded in slipping away un- 
noticed by their maudlin companions. 

" Now let us hasten," whispered Gripwell. 
" Yet be cautious, for we know not whether 
any enemy hath entered this part of the wood 
since we came hither." 

Unmolested they passed the flank of the 
French advanced posts, then gaining confidence 
in the fact that the English outposts were but 
a bow-shot off, they increased their pace. 

The trunk of a tree larger than its fellows 
barred their path. Geoifrey recognized the 
tree as having been the means of causing him 
to stumble over one of its exposed roots on their 
outward journey. This time he leapt lightly 
over the obstacle, to find himself thrown vio- 
lently in contact with a human being. 

The impact hurled both to the ground, while 
Gripwell, unaware of what was amiss, narrowly 
escaped tripping over the two struggling forms. 

Noiselessly the squire and the unknown 
wrestled on the ground. Geoffrey was unable 
to draw his poniard, nor was his antagonist 
able to use a weapon ; but the English lad, even 
in the midst of the desperate struggle, could not 
help wondering why his foeman did not shout 
for assistance. On his own part he knew that 
one cry would doubtless bring the French 
outposts to the spot, and the night's work would 
be undone. 

Whoever the stranger was, he had no lack 



238 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

of strength and courage, for not until Gripwell 
had contrived to distinguish the combatants 
in the darkness and had wound his cloak tightly 
round the fellow's head was the issue decided. 

" Stand by while I plunge my knife into his 
body," hissed the old man-at-arms. 

" Not so,'' whispered Geoffrey in reply. 
" 'Tis but a short distance to the camp, and this 
rascal may be of service. Help me carry him 
thither." 

With this the stranger began to writhe and 
struggle again, mumbling incoherently from the 
suffocating folds of Arnold's cloak. There was 
no help for it ; a sharp blow on the temples 
from the man-at-arms' powerful fist reduced 
the captive to a state of semi-insensibility. 

Thereupon Gripwell bound the man's arms 
with his own belt, secured his feet with the folds 
of his cloak, and effectually gagged him by means 
of a fir-cone held in position by Geoffrey's scarf. 
This done, the squire raised the helpless prisoner 
by the shoulders, and the man-at-arms took hold 
of his feet, and with their heavy burden the 
two comrades resumed their way till they were 
greeted by the welcome sounds of the EngHsh 
outposts. 

" Whom hast thou there ? " asked Sir 
Thomas Carberry, who had been anxiously 
awaiting the return of his squire. 

" Some fellow who stood in our path, fair 
sir," replied Geoffrey breathlessly. 

By this time the prisoner had recovered his 
senses, and by an unexpected thrust of his feet 
sent Geoffrey staggering into the arms of the 



THE EVE OF AGINCOURT 239 

Constable. At the same time he contrived, 
bound as he was, to wrench himself out of Geof- 
frey's arms, and, falling on his feet, he swayed 
to and fro in helpless rage, unable, by reason of 
the gag, to utter a sound. 

But as the glare of the fires fell upon his 
features Geoffrey found, to his discomfiture and 
consternation, that his prisoner was none other 
than his fellow squire, Richard Ratclyffe ! 



5 CHAPTER XXIV 

THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 

A SCURVY trick hast thou played on me/* 
exclaimed Ratclyffe when the amused 
soldiers had released him from his bonds. 
" By the Rood Fll think twice ere I venture 
again into the forest to seek for thee." 

" Hadst thou but spoken thou wouldst not 
have been mishandled thus/' replied Geoffrey, 
who had by now expressed his sorrow for the 
mistake. 

" Spoken ! Forsooth ! Did I not try to 
speak the moment I heard Gripwell discussing 
with thee on the subject of letting out my life's 
blood ? But what with being wellnigh smother- 
ed by his cloak, and " 

" Nay, say no more, squire," interrupted Sir 
Thomas. " Twas all a mistake, and beyond a 
shrewd blow — of which we shall have plenty ere 
long, I trow — there is little scath. Now, 
Geoffrey, the nature of thy report ? " 

Briefly the squire told his master of what 
had occurred, the nature of the ground, the 
position of the French outposts, and, most 
important of all, the conversation in the tent 
of d' Albert relating to the plan of attack. 

" By St. Paul ! Thou hast entered their 
camp ? " exclainled the fcnight. " This is al- 

240 



THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 241 

most beyond belief. But as it is we now know 
that we can occupy the woods on the French- 
men's flanks without let or hindrance. I'll 
now to the King, but, rest assured, thou wilt 
tiave full credit for thine enterprise. Ay, and 
thy man-at-arms also," added Sir Thomas, as 
[lis squire began to remind him that Arnold 
tiad shared the perils of the desperate errand. 

Thoroughly tired out, Geoffrey laid himself 
down by one of the fires, and, heedless of the 
steady rain, he was soon fast asleep. 

Meanwhile, Sir Thomas Carberry had hastened 
to make his report to the King. Henry had 
taken little repose, for having completed his 
inspection of the lines in the guise of an ordinary 
Dfhcer, he retired to his tent to don all his armour 
save his gold-encircled bascinet. This done he 
tiad mass celebrated in his quarters, foUow^ed by 
1 general council, at which all the commanders of 
li visions were ordered to attend. 

" Most excellent service," exclaimed the King 
when Sir Thomas had delivered his report. 
' See to it. Uncle Exeter ; send at least four 
hundred lances to the wood on the enemy's 
left flank. Half that number of archers are to 
take up their position on the opposite side of the 
valley. Impress upon them the utmost im- 
portance of concealment till the word is borne 
them." 

Silently the troops intended for the ambush 
moved towards the stations allotted them, and 
ere the council was broken up, the Duke of Exe- 
ter returned with the news that the manoeuvre 
had been successfully executed. 



242 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" Now, my lords, the day breaks," exclaimed 
Henry. " Let us to our stations and do our 
duty as becomes Englishmen. To-day, fair 
lords, is the Feast of the blessed saints Crispin 
and Crispian. From this day till all times will 
our names be linked with them, if we acquit 
ourselves nobly. Therefore let us be of good 
courage, remembering that our souls and bodies 
are in God's holy keeping." 

With the dawn the rain ceased, and across 
the sodden valley the trumpets of the little 
English army rang out loud and clear as the 
sun rose in a cloudless sky. Eagerly the chilled 
and shivering men-at-arms and archers flocked 
to take up their positions, glad that the dreary 
period of inaction was over. 

In the centre, under the Duke of Kent, stood 
the dismounted men-at-arms, resting stolidly on 
their spears and axes, while as an afterthought 
a sprinkling of archers took their stand in front 
of the heavy troops. On either flank were hun- 
dreds of bowmen under Lords Beaumont and 
Willoughby. In addition to their deadly long- 
bow and their swords and axes, each archer bore 
an iron-shod stake. 

^Barely twenty paces in the rear of the front 
rank were marshalled the reserves, composed 
chiefly of spearmen, under the command of the 
Earl of Exeter. 

The army being drawn up in line of battle, 
Henry, mounted on a white palfrey, rode slowly 
between the ranks. He had now donned his 
surcoat emblazoned with the lions of England 
and the lilies of France, while on his head he wore 



THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 243 

a polished steel bascinet which was encircled 
by a very rich crown of gold, rendering its 
wearer a conspicuous object in the field. 

" Certes/' exclaimed the veteran Lord Ca- 
moys to the Constable of Portchester, as his 
gaze travelled from the seemingly countless 
multitude of Frenchmen to the six thousand 
Englishmen standing motionless in the ranks. 
" What would some of the good knights who 
have remained in England give to be here ? " 

" What sayest thou, my lord Camoys ? " 
asked the King, who had overheard the knight^s 
remark. " Dost wish for more good English- 
men to be here ? Nay, I would not have a single 
man more. If God give us the victory we know 
that we owe it to His goodness. If He does not, 
the fewer we are the less will be the loss to 
Englaaid. But let us fight with our usual cour- 
age, and God and the justice of our cause will 
protect us." 

Having completed his inspection the King 
took up his position at the head of the second 
line, with the Duke of Gloucester, Mowbray, the 
Earl Marshal, and the Earls of Oxford and Suf- 
folk, while above him fluttered the Royal Stan- 
dard, leaving no doubt as to the identity of 
the King of England. 

Meanwhile, the French had been mustering 
in dense masses across the valley, till their 
three divisions, each ten files deep, seemed to 
resemble a sohd wall of steel, dominated by a 
forest of banners. At length their preparations 
were complete, but there seemed no inclination 
on their part to open the battle, 



244 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Suddenly, to the surprise of the English, 
three French knights, armed cap-a-pied, rode 
fearlessty across the intervening plain. Some 
of the archers began to bend their bows, but 
were restrained by their officers. 

" They bear a message," shouted Lord Camoys 
to those nearest him. " Open ranks and let 
them pass, but take heed that they see not the 
pointed stakes." 

Haughtily the three Frenchmen rode through 
the gap in the front rank and reined in before 
the Royal Standard, where Henry, now on foot, 
awaited them. 

" Sire," exclaimed the foremost knight. " I 
am Jacques de Helly, Marechal of France." 

" That we do perceive," replied the King 
curtly, " both by thy cognizance and by reason 
of the fact that thou wert, and still ought to 
be, our prisoner in England." 

'' 'Tis on that matter that I am come," re- 
plied de Helly. " 'Tis reported that I have 
broken my parole. Let it be known to all men 
that 'tis false. To all or any who would gain- 
say me, I hereby offer to meet them in single 
combat, here betwixt the armies." 

" 'Tis no time for single combats," replied 
Henry sternly. " Hence, lest I lose patience 
with thee. Also go tell thy countrymen to 
prepare for battle at once." 

" Sire," exclaimed de Helly, his swarthy fea- 
tures livid with anger, '' I shall receive no order 
from you ; Charles is our liege lord ; him we obey, 
and for him we'll fight when the time comes." 

'' Away, then," replied the King. " Take 



THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 245 

care that we are not before you," and as the 
haughty Frenchmen turned and rode beyond 
the Enghsh front, Henry shouted in a loud 
and ringing voice, " Advance banners in the 
name of God and St. George ! " 

Standing in his stirrups the grey-haired Sir 
Thomas Erpyingham threw his warder in the 
air — the signal for the advance. Instantly the 
little English host was electrified into activity, 
and with shouts of " St. George for Merrie Eng- 
land," the foremost division began to close upon 
the seemingly overwhelming masses of the 
enemy. 

Still the Frenchmen showed no signs of ad- 
vancing. Something must be done to goad 
them to move to meet the attack, otherwise the 
handful of Englishmen would be thrown away 
upon the solid phalanx of French steel. 

From his position on the right of the men-at- 
arms of the Hampshire division, Geoffrey saw 
the Frenchmen standing in close ranks, regarding 
their on-coming foe with looks of disdain. Now, 
the foremost division was on the edge of the 
intervening belt of bog-land. A few more steps 
and the natural defence on which the king had 
placed so much hope would be turned from an 
advantage into a hindrance, then 

" Halt," shouted the young Duke of Kent in 
a voice that was borne high above the subdued 
hum of the ranks. *' Archers ! Loose wholly 
together ! " 

There was very little of nervous haste on the 
part of the bowmen. Even the comparatively 
raw recruits were as steady as the most exacting 



246 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

leader could desire. Hardly had the words of 
command ceased when the air was torn by the 
sharp swish of the speeding arrows, and at less 
than half a bow-shot the French received the 
death-dealing blast. 

In the twinkling of an eye their foremost 
ranks were thrown into the utmost disorder. 
'Gainst the deadly cloth-yard shaft, plate ar- 
mour, leathern coat, and iron buckler alike were 
useless. Knights and men-at-arms rolled on the 
ground, transfixed, not once but many times, 
by the goose- wing-tipped arrows. 

But amongst the struggling press of French- 
men brave men were to be found in plenty. 
Disentangling themselves from the disorderly 
mass, the mounted men with lance at rest 
spurred towards the archers. 

" Stand fast behind your stakes," shouted the 
company commander, realizing that once the 
heavy cavalry came within striking distance 
of the lightly armed archers the latter would be 
cut to pieces and scattered like chaff. 

On came the French horse, knee to knee, 
plunging heavily in the thick tenacious clay, 
while unceasingly the hail of arrows was main- 
tained till the line of stakes was faced by an 
almost insurmountable barrier of dead and 
dying steeds and their riders. 

To add to the confusion the English archers 
in ambush delivered a raking fire, till, losing 
men both in the flanks and rear of their division, 
besides those who perished in the charge upon 
the palisades, the French began to give back. 

" Forward — men-at-arms and archers ! " 



THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 247 

shouted a ringing voice that all who heard 
recognized as the King's. Conspicuous by his 
gold-emblazoned helmet and the royal arms 
on his surcoat, Henry led the counter attack 
in person. 

The deadly bows were dropped or slung across 
the archers' backs, and with axe, sword, spear 
and mace the dismounted men-at-arms and 
bowmen hurled themselves upon the swaying, 
demoralized mob of their enemies. 

For a while the battle resolved itself into a 
series of desperate conflicts, all order being 
thrown to the winds. Often the combatants 
had no room to ply their weapons, the two- 
handed swords of the French men-at-arms 
being useless when opposed to the knives and 
daggers of the English archers. So thick did 
the press become that the King's brother, the 
Duke of York, was crushed to death betwixt 
two mailed Frenchmen. 

Into the thickest of the melee plunged the 
Constable of Portchester, with Geoffrey, Oswald 
and Ratclyffe close at his heels as became their 
duties ; but ere long the heir of Warblington, 
separated from his comrades, found himself 
confronted by a tall knight whose armour bore 
no device. In an instant they closed, Geoffrey's 
antagonist endeavouring to hurl the squire to the 
earth, while the young Englishman attempted 
to deliver a poniard stroke between the joints 
of the knight's armour. 

As they fought an archer sprang upon the 
squire's foeman, and with a mighty heave 
wrenched his bascinet from his gorget, disclosing 



248 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the features of the ex-monk Olandyne. The 
next instant the recreant had fallen with the 
archer's knife buried in his throat. 

Suddenly a shout arose, " To me, English- 
men ! " and Geoffrey perceived the Duke of 
Gloucester hard pressed by four or five French 
knights. Unable to make good his defence the 
Duke was already wounded, yet he stubbornly 
continued the unequal combat. 

One of the foremost of his attackers was a 
broad-shouldered knight whose surcoat had 
been torn away during the earlier stages of the 
conflict. His shield, too, had been lost, but 
armed with a heavy battle-axe, he pressed the 
Duke with demoniacal fury. 

In reply to the shout for aid Geoffrey made 
his way through the struggling crowds towards 
the Duke, but ere he could disengage himself, 
Gloucester was beaten to the earth by a mighty 
sweep of the Frenchman's battle-axe. 

The next instant the King himself had stepped 
across his brother's prostrate body, and with 
shield outstretched and ready blade he defended 
the helpless Duke from the combined assault 
of the French knights. 

But help was at hand. Geoffrey and three 
others threw themselves upon the King's assail- 
ants, Henry directing his attention to the un- 
known knight of the axe. In this he had enough 
to do, for the Frenchman's weapon descended 
with fearful force upon the King of England's 
helmet. Luckily the blow was a glancing one, 
yet it clove the golden crown on his bascinet, 
and brought Henry to his knees. 



THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 249 

But the unknown's triumph was short-lived. 
Regaining his feet the King in turn sent his 
antagonist reehng to the earth, while, carried 
away by the heat of the battle, his three subjects 
were about to slay the man who had so nearly 
achieved his purpose. 

" Hold, I yield ! I am Alen9on," exclaimed 
the prostrate knight. But the offer of surrender 
came too late. Ere the King could stretch 
forth his hand to protect his enemy, the Due 
d'Alengon had received his death-blow. 

" Nay, fair sirs," exclaimed the King breath- 
lessly, " I am unhurt ; yet, an I were, 'tis no 
time for condolences." 

Henry had spoken truly, for approaching 
him in a compact body were eighteen knights, 
each of whom had sworn a solemn oath to kill 
or take the King of England or perish in the 
attempt. The Royal Standard of England 
had served them as a guide only too well. 

In an instant Geoffrey was swept to the earth 
by the desperate rush, one of the knights who 
had gone to the King's assistance was slain, 
and Henry with three of his followers was left 
to meet the determined attack. 

Once again the King, defending himself with 
courage and coolness, was beaten down upon 
his knees, but others of his supporters came to 
the rescue, and the eighteen Frenchmen kept 
their vow — they died to a man. 

Slowly Geoffrey extricated himself from the 
mire and regained his feet. Beyond being 
sorely bruised he was unhurt, and with the 
knowledge that the King was safe he plunged 
again into the press. 



250 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

But already the tide of battle had turned. 
Unless a surprising rally should take place on 
the part of the enemy the conflict was decided. 
The first division of the foe had recoiled upon 
the second, and now both were assailed by the 
victorious English, and the remains of both 
were seeking safety in flight. As for the 
third line, the fate of their comrades had struck 
them with panic. On the approach of the 
four hundred English lances, who had hitherto 
remained in ambush with remarkable self- 
restraint, they, too, fled, and the victory was 
complete. 

In an endeavour to find Sir Thomas Carberry, 
Geoffrey made his way betwixt the piles of corpses 
to where a few valiant French knights still held 
out. For a while the squire searched in vain, 
till he perceived seven or eight surcoated archers, 
whom he recognized as being Warblington men, 
standing in a semi-circle with brandished 
weapons. 

As Geoffrey drew near the object of their 
position became apparent. Standing with his 
back against a tree was a Frenchman. He was 
clad in complete mail, but in spite of this he 
had received more than one wound. The 
plume had been shorn from his crest, his shield 
was splintered, his armour cracked and dented, 
and his sword, broken close to the hilt, lay at 
his feet. Battle-axe in hand he stood at bay, 
disdaining to receive quarter at the hands 
of base archers, while his antagonists hesitated 
to come within reach of the menacing weapon. 

" Send a shaft through him," suggested one. 



THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 251 

About to act upon this advice, an archer bent 
his bow. 

" Hold ! " exclaimed Geoffrey, grasping the 
man by the shoulder. Even as he did so the 
arrow sped, but wide of the mark. Angrily 
the archer turned about. 

" Who art thou to stand betwixt an honest 
Englishman and a rascally Frenchman ? " he 
demanded, for he failed to recognize his young 
leader, whose armour was covered from helm 
to solleret in mud and gore. 

" Dost not know me, Hubert ? " 

" By Our Lady, 'tis Master Geoffrey. Thy 
pardon, young sir. But this is our affair, 
therefore, come not to prevent us working our 
will on this thick-headed Frenchman.'' 

" Have ye not demanded his surrender ? " 

" Ay," replied the men in a chorus. " And 
he refuses." 

" Sir Knight," exclaimed the squire earnestly. 
''Wilt yield? " 

" Art thou a gentleman of quality, sir ? " 
replied the Frenchman. " If so " 

" Nay, since we are to be done out of his 
ransom let him die," interrupted the archers 
sturdily. 

" Fret not yourselves," exclaimed Geoffrey. 
" Were he dead not a groat would ye receive. 
On the other hand, if he surrender the ransom 
I'll bestow upon you." 

" Then we are content," replied the soldiers, 
and they moved away. 

" Wilt yield, sir Knight ? " repeated the 
squire. " I am a gentleman of coat-armour, 



252 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

and will give thee every consideration befitting 
a gallant and debonair gentleman of France." 

" Fair sir, I yield," but as the vanquished 
knight tendered the hilt of his axe he toppled and 
fell heavily to the ground. 

Drawing his poniard Geoffrey knelt beside 
the unconscious man and deftly severed the 
laces of his bascinet. Upon removing the 
heavy headpiece he found to his surprise that 
his captive was none other than Sir Raoul 
d'Aulx, Seigneur de Maissons and the knight 
who held Sir Oliver Lysle in courteous captivit3\ 

In vain Geoffrey searched for fresh water. 
In the furrows and ditches there was water in 
plenty, but discoloured by the blood of friend 
and foe. But to the squire's intense relief the 
colour began to return to the face of Sir Raoul, 
and at length he opened his eyes. 

" Ho, Geoffrey, I have sought thee high and 
low : methought thou hadst bitten the dust," 
exclaimed a well-known voice as Osw^ald Steyn- 
ing approached, his unhelmed head swathed 
in a blood-stained scarf. 

" I have indeed bitten the dust, Oswald," 
replied Geoffrey with a smile, " yet, thanks be 
to God, I have received no hurt. But thou 
bearest some token of the fray ? " 

" A mere cut," replied Sir Oliver's squire 
lightly. 

" And Sir Thomas and the rest of the com- 
pany ? " 

" Beyond a few slight but honourable wounds 
Sir Thomas is unscathed, but alas ! Ratclyffe 
is no more." 



THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT 253 

*' Tis sad news. And Gripwell ? '* 

" As blithe as a maid on May Day. Certes, 
he hath good cause, for but a short while ago 
I saw him with mine own eyes taking two French 
knights to the camp. If he see England again 
never another day's work will he need to do, for 
his prisoners are worth four thousand crowns 
apiece." 

" I pray thee lend me thine aid with this one,'* 
said Geoffrey, pointing to his captive. " Tis 
none other than Sir Raoul d'Aulx." 

" Therein thou art fortunate," replied Oswald. 
" Let us quit this field, for my stomach turns 
at the sight of it." 

With a squire supporting him on either side 
Sir Raoul was placed on his feet and assisted 
towards the rear, where the baggage and horses 
had been placed under guard, and where the 
captives were being taken for safety ; but, ere 
Geoffrey and his charge reached the fringe of 
the corpse-encumbered field, a man-at-arms rode 
past them in hot haste. 

" Look to yourselves," he shouted. " We are 
attacked in the rear. The camp is taken ! " 



CHAPTER XXV 

THE MASSACRE 

THE alarming news that an attack was 
being made on the rear quickly spread, 
and from all parts of the field knights, men-at- 
arms and archers came running towards the 
Royal Standard as fast as their wearied bodies 
and cumbersome armour would permit. 

Yet, even in the face of this new danger the 
mercenary instinct of the common soldiers was 
paramount. They had fought and won ; rich 
and noble prisoners, worth princely ransoms, 
were theirs, and even the threatened attack 
failed to make the archers and men-at-arms 
abandon their hard-earned prizes. Thus the 
King found himself surrounded by a medley 
of Englishmen, intermingled with a crowd of 
French knights and gentlemen who in the 
confusion of the impending attack would un- 
doubtedly be a source of danger to their captors. 

Henry was quick to act. As a general and 
a soldier he resolved upon stern measures. 

" My Lord Camoys," he exclaimed, '' take 
a thousand lances and at all costs hold the 
enemy in check until the men-at-arms and 
archers can be formed up. Pass the word also 
that every man is to put his prisoner to death.** 

254 



THE MASSACRE 255 

Unhesitatingly Lord Camoys rode to execute 
his terrible orders, but to the King's anger and 
surprise, sullen murmurs of protest and defiance 
rose on all sides. Though realizing the gravity 
of the situation, the English — knights and 
common soldiers alike — were loth to take such 
extreme measures. In some cases feelings of 
humanity prompted them to resist their liege- 
lord's orders, but, generally speaking, it was the 
reluctance to put a high-born prisoner to death 
that incited them to refusal. According to the 
practice of the times the indiscriminate slaughter 
of the common soldiers — men who could not 
afford to pay ransom — was regarded as the 
custom of war, but the murder of every prisoner 
who was willing to pay a large sum to his captor 
was in every sense abhorrent. 

" By the Blessed Trinity," thundered the 
King, " what is this I see ? Open rebellion ? 
Sirs, ye will pay dearly for this anon." 

And turning to one Thomas Aimer, squire to 
Sir John Cornwall, afterwards Baron Fanhope, 
he ordered him to take three hundred archers 
and execute the helpless prisoners. 

" Nay, I cannot abide it," exclaimed Geoffrey 
resolutely, as the shrieks of the unfortunate 
Frenchmen began to ring in his ears. " E'en 
if my own life has to pay forfeit this knight must 
be protected." 

Bidding Oswald support the tottering form 
of Sir Raoul, Geoffrey made his way to where 
lay the body of a slain English man-at-arms. 
Quickly he stripped the corpse of its white 
surcoat with the distinguishing Cross of St. 



256 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

George, and returning, began to place it over 
the body of his captive. 

Feebly Sir Raoul tried to resist. This don- 
ning of the hated cognisance was repugnant to his 
sense of honour, but his strength was unequal to 
his resolution,and with a groan he swooned away. 

" We are indeed in sore straits," exclaimed 
Geoffrey as he carried out his plan of disguising 
the Frenchman's appearance. "If we stay 
here perchance they will see through the trick ; 
if we go on we shall fall into the hands of our 
enemies. Yet, by St. George, I'll see Sir Raoul 
to safety or perish." 

By dint of great exertions the two squires 
dragged the mail-clad body of the helpless knight 
to the shelter of a thorn-bush. Here they 
waited, reluctantly compelled to witness the 
horrible scene as the archers went about their 
murderous business. 

Presently three of the executioners, with reek- 
ing weapons in their hands and their white 
surcoats splashed with blood, approached. 

" Whom hast thou here, sir squire ? " de- 
manded one, pointing with his blade at the 
unconscious Sir Raoul. " I' faith ; I'll swear 
yon red cross covers no English carcase." 

" 'Tis a wounded knight," replied Geoffrey. 
" I thank thee for thy offer of assistance, but 
must needs decline it." 

" Hark at him ! Decline, forsooth ? Nay, 
mine assistance is to help the rogue to Paradise, 
so stand aside, squire, in the King's name, for 
no man dare tell me that his harness w^as 
fashioned in England." 



THE MASSACRE 257 

** Nay, His no affair of thine, archer ; yet if a 
gold piece or two will " 

" Offerest thou me gold ? " replied the soldier 
with a gruff laugh. " I'll wager I have enough 
gold sewn up in my doublet to buy thee thrice 
over." 

" Then take care lest I slit thy doublet and 
thy hide as well," replied Geoffrey, standing 
on his guard. " 'Tis ill that Englishmen should 
shed each other's blood, yet I have sworn to 
protect this man, and before Heaven I'll not 
go back from my word." 

" Fall on, comrades," shouted the archer. 
" We'll see whether this young cockerel can 
scratch as well as crow." 

" Draw, Oswald ; I command thee ! " ex- 
claimed Geoffrey, and wondering at his com- 
panion's tone, Oswald, sword in hand, took 
his place at his side. 

" We are but wasting time," expostulated 
one of the archers. " The squire is right : why 
should we fight Englishmen ? Are we not 
exceeding our orders ? " 

" What ! Art afraid of two lads ? " rephed 
his fellow. " Come on, I say, and let's settle this 
business." 

"Do it thyself. For my part I'll pass by. 
The King can be told of this opposition 
anon." 

" Go, chicken-heart ! What will thy friends 
and kinsfolk at Ely say when they hear that 
thou hast shown the white feather to two 
beardless squires ? Now, look to thyself, 
squire." 



258 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

As the archer with two of his comrades was 
on the point of closing, a cry went up '' In the 
King's name, the slaughter of the prisoners 
must cease ! " The order was repeated in aU 
parts of the field, and in a ver}' short space of 
time the work of massacre had ceased, the 
archers being, for the most part, glad to cease 
their unprofitable and hateful task. 

" 'Tis well for thee, squire," growled Geoffrey's 
antagonist, smarth^ thrusting his sword back 
into its scabbard and turning on his heel. " But, 
mark ye, the King shall hear of this." 

The report of the attack upon the rear guard 
had proved to be greatly exaggerated. Finding 
that the camp had been left slenderh' guarded 
a seigneur living close to the village of Agincourt, 
Isambard by name, had gathered together a 
band of five hundred peasants, and falling upon 
the baggage guard had put them to fhght. 
This done, the marauders set to work to pillage 
the baggage, till they were dispersed b}' the 
EngHsh lances. 

Yet Isambard had not been unsuccessful, for 
part of his spoil consisted of the King's cro\Mi 
that had been made in anticipation of his corona- 
tion in Paris, and also a diamond-hilt ed sword 
belonging to the ro\^al treasures. 

But to counterbalance this gain 'tis said that 
no less than fourteen hundred defenceless and 
unarmed knights and squires of France had 
been slaughtered in cold blood. No wonder, 
therefore, was it that when Isambard presented 
his trophies to the Due de Burgund}^ that irate 
prince, reproaching the seigneur as being the 



THE MASSACRE 259 

cause of the massacre, ordered him to be cast 
into prison. 

" I fear we have not seen the end of this 
affair," remarked Oswald, as the two squires 
stood much disquieted by the side of their 
prisoner, and the gravity of their offence began 
to loom larger. " If this comes to the King's 
ears we are likely to be put to death." 

" I, perchance, but not thou, Oswald," replied 
Geoffrey. 

" How so ? Did I not draw with thee ? " 

" Didst thou not hear me order thee to draw? 
Since thou art my father's squire and I am his 
representative in the field, thou art under my 
orders, though heretofore I have not exercised 
any authority over thee. Therefore, should it 
come to pass that the matter is taken up, thou 
canst — nay must — plead that 'twas by my com- 
mand that thou didst resist the King's orders." 

" Thou meanest me well, Geofeey ; but 
methinks 'twill not serve," replied Oswald as 
the generous nature of his friend's act became 
apparent to him. " However, 'tis of no use 
waiting for trouble ; let us find Sir Thomas 
Carberry and confide in him." 

Acting on this sensible advice the two squires 
assisted Sir Raoul, who had again recovered 
consciousness, to his feet, and having left him 
in a secure place in charge of two of the War- 
blington archers, who had strayed across their 
path, they set out to find the Constable of 
Portchester. 

The field of battle was literally smothered 
with corpses of men and horses ; shattered 



26o UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

weapons lay everywhere, while in front of the 
still-standing row of stakes the barrier of 
slaughtered Frenchmen was piled breast-high. 
Amid these horrible surroundings archers were 
carelessly sauntering, withdrawing arrows that 
had sunk deep in the clayey soil to replenish 
their quivers, or stopping to plunder the body 
of some wealthy knight. Here and there walked 
small knots of soldiers searching for the corpse 
of their master, or engaged in succouring their 
wounded comrades, whose groans and cries of 
pain rose on all sides ; but most of the English 
knights and squires, as well as a vast concourse 
of men-at-arms, had gathered round the Royal 
Standard that floated proudly over the fatal 
field. 

" Ah, there is Sir Thomas," exclaimed Oswald, 
pointing to the star and crescent banner that 
showed bravely amidst a waving forest of silken 
guidons and pennons. 

" Heaven be praised," exclaimed the Con- 
stable, " that I see thee safe and sound, Geoffrey. 
Methought I had lost both my squires. And 
Oswald, too ! " 

" Fair lord, I have as yet been spared, though 
Richard Ratclyffe hath fallen." 

" Ay, and right bravely he fought and died ; 
Heaven rest his soul," added the knight gravely. 
" But what hath gone amiss ? I see trouble in 
thine eyes." 

" Sir, thou art like to lose another squire," 
replied Geoffrey. 

" How so ? How so ? " demanded the Con- 
stable anxiously. Then with a smile he added, 



THE MASSACRE 261 

'' Perchance the King hath thought fit to give 
thee advancement ? '' 

" Advancement of a kind, fair sir," repHed 
Geoffrey gloomily, and in a few words he related 
the events concerning Sir Raoul's capture and 
escape from massacre. 

'' By St. George ! What hast thou done ? " 
exclaimed Sir Thomas, aghast at his squire's 
temerity. " Thou hast flouted the King's 
authority." 

" In this matter I had no choice," replied 
Geoffrey. " Deeply I regret my error, but I am 
under a vow to save this French knight." 

" 'Twill require all my efforts to save thee 
from the hangman's rope, young sir. But, 
certes, I'll do my utmost. An I can but get 
the King's ear when he is in a good mood, so 
much the better. Above all I must have my 
say ere the squire in charge of the archers can 
lay his complaint. Yet think not to get off 
lightly, Geoff re}^ Thou hast erred and must 
needs pay the penalty." 

" That I know, fair sir." 

" Then bear thyself like a true soldier. But 
here comes the French herald. List to what he 
hath to say, for 'tis of much import." 

Even in his distress Geoffrey craned his neck 
to see the meeting twixt the victorious king 
and the representative of the conquered foe. 

The French knight was magnificently har- 
nessed in a suit of white armour, over which 
was a tabard emblazoned with the royal arms of 
France. He was unarmed and unhelmed, for 
he bore his casque in his right hand. Alighting 



262 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

from his palfrey, he threw the reins to an attend- 
ant, and accompanied by two pages, advanced 
to where Henry stood, clad in his soiled and 
dented armour, surrounded by his lords and 
chief officers. 

" I am Denis Mount] oye, King-at-Arms, and 
a loyal servant to my master King Charles, on 
whose account am I here." 

" Greetings, herald," exclaimed the King 
courteously. " We would fain know thy 
errand." 

" I crave permission to bury our dead, sire." 

" First tell us, herald : to whom belongs this 
victory — to us or to the King of France ? " 

" To you, sire." 

'' And yon castle — what name does it bear ? " 

" The Castle of Agincourt, sire." 

" Then let this battle be called the battle of 
Agincourt," announced the King in a loud voice. 
" Herald, th}^ request is granted. Five hundred 
peasants can see to the burial of thy master's 
dead ; Sir John Crofton will give thee further 
directions." 

As soon as Mount] oye had taken his departure 
the King removed his helmet, which bore elo- 
quent testimony to its wearer's prowess, and in 
obedience to an order, knight, squire and 
common soldier followed his example. Then, led 
by Henry in person, the psalm Non nobis, 
Domine, was chanted by the English army in 
order to acknowledge, in the midst of triumph, 
the only Giver of victory. 

The French losses were enormous. Ten thou- 
sand fell on the field of battle, and of these only 



THE MASSACRE 263 

fifteen hundred were common soldiers. The 
Constable of France, the Counts of Nevers and 
Marie, the Dukes of Brabant, Alengon and 
Barre, and the Archbishop of Sens were 
amongst those who laid down their life for 
France ; while the Dukes of Bourbon and 
Orleans were amongst the prisoners. 

The losses on the victorious side were pro- 
portionately small. The Duke of York, the 
Earl of Suffolk, four knights, seven squires, 
and about fifteen hundred men-at-arms and 
archers died in battle, or, roughly, one in every 
four men engaged. Had the remnant of the 
French army rallied and made another attack 
in the open, the shattered English force might 
never have reached Calais, but so disheartened 
were the defeated troops that any attempt at a 
renewal of the fray was impossible. 

Deeming himself secure from further molesta- 
tion Henry withdrew his forces to the camp at 
Maisoncelles, a short distance from the scene of 
action, to allow his wearied men a good night's 
rest ere resuming their coast ward march. 

The shades of evening were falling upon the 
ghastly field of Agincourt as the Constable of 
Portchester returned from audience with the 
King. He had gone alone, thinking it wiser 
to leave the two culprits in their quarters during 
the fateful interview with his royal master. 

During his absence Geoffrey and Oswald had 
not been unmindful of their lord's comfort. 
Tents there were now in abundance, for the 
fugitive host had left the whole of the camp 
equipment standing. 



264 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" What think ye of our condition, Arnold ? " 
asked Geoffrey of the old man-at-arms, pausing 
in the midst of arranging Sir Thomas's couch. 

" Faith ! many a man has been hanged for 
less," replied Grip well, bluntly outspoken in his 
sorrow. " E'en though the order was unneces- 
sary, as it seems, yet 'twas thy place to obey 
it. Yet likely thy youth and thy previous good 
service being taken into consideration, thou 
may est save thy neck. But here comes our 
master. Methinks I read good tidings on his 
face." 

Dutifully the two squires hastened to relieve 
Sir Thomas of his armour, placing wine and food 
before him as he eased his wearied limbs upon 
the couch. Though both lads were consumed 
with anxiety they preserved a strict silence, 
awaiting the news of the knight's mediation. 

" By Our Lady," exclaimed the Con- 
stable, " 'tis strange that after a hard day in the 
field I should have to spend a harder time in 
exercising my sorry tongue on behalf of two 
wrong-headed young squires. Yet fret not 
thyself, Geoffrey ; nor thee, Oswald. In short, 
ye are pardoned for your transgression, though 
at a price." 

" Fair lord, I thank thee," Geoffrey exclaimed. 

" Nay, wait and hear me out. Certes, when I 
told the King his brow was as black as a thunder- 
cloud, yet, on recalling thy services to him both 
at Southampton and on the field when he was 
beset by d'Alen9on, he mused awhile. 

" ' Then the chief culprit was the squire 
who went into the enemy's camp, and who later 



THE MASSACRE 265 

helped most valiantly to beat d'Alen§on to the 
earth ? And he would spoil himself on account 
of a French knight ? Well, Sir Thomas, we'll 
let this pass. It was in our mind to bestow 
upon him the gilded spurs of knighthood, but 
now 'tis not to be thought of. As for his com- 
panion in trouble thou sayest he acted under 
compulsion ? Let that also pass.' 

" Then as I was about to withdraw who 
should appear but Sir John Cornwall. ' Sire, 
I have a plaint to lay before thee. My squire 
Aimer hath reported that two squires have 
obstructed certain of my archers in the execu- 
tion of thy orders.' 

" 'Thou art too late. Sir John,' replied the 
King. ' Sir Thomas, here, hath already lodged 
a case 'gainst them. Yet thanks for thy zeal 
in our cause.' 

" Once more I was about to withdraw when 
the King called me back. ' Who is this French 
knight, and what hath he done that thy squire 
should so stoutly befriend him ? ' 

" ' Sire,' I replied, ' he is Sir Raoul d'Aulx, 
seigneur of the Chateau de Maissons, and he 
holds this squire's father, Sir Oliver Lysle, in 
captivity.' 

" ' 'Tis indeed strange. We would have 
thought that 'twould be an eye for an eye, a 
tooth for a tooth. But concerning this Castle 
of Maissons — doth it not lie near this place ? ' 

" ' But a short distance from the ford at 
Peronne.' 

" ' Then see to it, Sir Thomas. Let a troop 
of lances on the morrow be sent to bring Sir 



266 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

Oliver hither, for we have heard much concern- 
ing the Lord of Warbhngton, and have need of 
his services.' With that I thanked the King 
and withdrew." 

" Fair lord, then we are much beholden to 
thee." 

" Nay, 'twould ill become me if I failed to do 
my utmost for my squires. Now to rest, 
Geoffrey, for thou must be up betimes, since 
it is my desire that thou shouldst ride with the 
men-at-arms to Maissons." 

For a space Geoffrey could not utter a word, 
then with an effort he asked — 

" Did I hear aright, fair sir ? The King — 
did he say that the gilded spurs of knighthood 
were not to be thought of in my case ? " 

" Aye, that he did," replied the Constable 
with a twinkle in his deep-set eyes. " Aye, that 
he did ; but beshrew me, I have forgotten to 
add his own words ' for a while at least.' 
So bear up, young heart, and I'll warrant that 
thou' It be Sir Geoffrey ere the King sets foot in 
Paris." 



CHAPTER XXVI 

AT THE CASTLE OF SIR RAOUL D'AULX 

THE morning after Agincourt dawned bright 
and clear, with a keenness in the wind 
that betokened the approach of winter. 

Ere the camp was fully astir, for the war- 
worn soldiers were thoroughly enjoying their 
hard-earned rest, forty men-at-arms of Sir 
John Carberry's command formed up on an 
open stretch of ground in front of the Hampshire 
Company's lines. 

The horses, thanks to a complete day's idle- 
ness in the rich pasture ground, were fresh and 
well-fed, presenting a vast contrast to their 
gaunt and stern riders, many of whom bore 
traces of the ordeal they had undergone cul- 
minating in the desperate advance upon the 
disordered French lines. Yet they were one 
and all filled with enthusiasm, for all of them 
knew Sir Oliver as a gallant knight, while every 
available man of the Warblington contingent 
had volunteered for the expedition that was 
to set free their beloved master. 

Arnold Gripwell had barely completed his 
careful inspection of the equipment of the troop, 
both horse and rider, when the Constable of 
Portchester, accompanied by Geoffrey and 

267 



268 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

Oswald, emerged from his tent to bid his men 
Godspeed. 

" Thou knowest the way ? " he asked as the 
squires mounted their chargers. " 'Tis plain 
enough, since 'tis worn by the feet of seven 
thousand of our men. But take heed lest ye 
fall in with any large bodies of roving French- 
men, e'en though they have been soundly 
beaten. x\ll being well ye should be back ere 
sunrise to-morrow ; but if by noon ye have not 
put in an appearance I'll lead a double company 
to your aid." 

" Tis well, fair lord," rephed Geoffrey. " I 
will do my utmost to return at daw^n." 

Then, without so much as a cheer or a trumpet 
note the little band set out, and passing through 
the lines of the sleeping camp, gained the open 
country beyond. 

Without molestation, for the country ap- 
peared deserted, the men-at-arms recrossed the 
Ternoise and the Somme, and an hour before 
noon came in sight of the towers of Maissons. 

Here Geoffre}^ on Gripwell's advice, called a 
halt, to rest and refresh the horses, and to give 
the men a short respite ere advancing upon the 
castle. 

The squire had already made cautious in- 
quiries of his captive, Sir Raoul, concerning the 
possible garrison of IMaissons ; but, unwilling 
to inform the knight that it was proposed to 
summon the castle to surrender, Geo^rey had 
been unable to gather any definite information 
as to its state of defence. 

" They are read}^ to give us a right warm 



AT THE CASTLE 269 

welcome ! '' exclaimed Oswald, as in nearing the 
castle the drawbridge was observed to be drawn 
up, while the sun glistened upon steel caps and 
spearheads over the battlements. 

" Certes, they are by no means few," observed 
Gripwell, shading his eyes. " It would seem 
that the followers of this Sir Raoul have not 
stuck to the field with their master. There 
must be at least three score of them — and 
behind stout walls too. By St. George, we'll 
have a tough task here, squire Geoffrey." 

" That is to be seen," replied Geoffrey. " Has 
any man a white scarf with him ? If so let him 
bind it to his spear." 

Two or three of the required articles were at 
once forthcoming, and using one as a flag of 
truce, Geoffrey rode boldly up to the edge of the 
moat, a man-at-arms riding close behind him 
with the emblem of parley. 

" I would have speech with the representative 
of Sir Raoul d'Aulx, Seigneur de Maissons," 
exclaimed Geoffrey. 

" Thy message, sir," replied a woman's voice, 
and to the squire's astonishment and confusion 
there appeared the figure of the Lady Aimee, 
daughter of the seigneur and the haughty 
chatelaine whom Geoffrey had rescued on his 
journey up the Seine two years previously. 
She had donned a light steel corselet and cap 
that failed to conceal her dark brown tresses, 
and leaning upon a shield emblazoned with the 
d'Aulx arms, she stood proudly and de- 
fiantly upon the battlements of her ancestral 
home. 



270 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Even though Geoffrey had raised the visor 
of his helmet he felt certain that the damosel 
failed to recognize him. Nor was that to be 
wondered at, since the squire had altered and 
matured not a little during those two years of 
strenuous life and activity, while in complete 
mail he looked a very different person from the 
lad who in ordinary travelling attire had dared 
to rush in upon a levelled crossbow to aid the 
haughty Lady d'Aulx. 

" In the name of the most puissant sovereign 
Henry, King of England and France, I demand 
surrender of the castle known as Maissons, 
now in the possession of the representatives 
of Sir Raoul d'Aulx." 

" 'Tis easy to demand, sir," replied the girl. 
" Yet not easy to acquire. How dost thou 
think that thou canst take this castle with more 
than half a hundred defenders behind its walls. 
Have a care, sir, lest the forces of King Charles, 
the only King of France, do not sweep thee and 
thine from off the face of the earth." 

" I fear them not," replied Geoffrey. " Thou 
knowest only too well that only yesterday the 
French fled before our arms, leaving vast 
numbers of gallant knights upon the field and 
in our hands." 

In spite of her coolness Aimee d'Aulx stag- 
gered beneath the shock of the news, but 
recovering herself, she replied, '' A truce to 
thy words, sir. An thou wilt take the castle, 
advance, for 'tis a warm reception that awaits 
thee and thine." 

With that the girl disappeared from view, 



AT THE CASTLE 271 

leaving Geoffrey staring up at the battlement 
where she had stood. 

'' Fair sir," quoth the man-at-arms who bore 
the white flag. " Hast thou taken notice of 
those nine steel caps showing above the 
wall ? " 

" Nay," replied the squire shortly, for, truth 
to tell, during the interview he had eyes only for 
the fair Aimee d'Aulx. 

" They have not moved a hair's breadth these 
five minutes," continued the man. '' Since 'tis 
impossible for a Frenchman to remain quiet, 
for curiosity must have otherwise consumed 
them, I am of opinion that those head-pieces 
are set up only to trick us." 

" By the rood, Hubert, methinks thou shouldst 
be right in this matter," exclaimed the squire 
excitedly. 

" And, moreover," went on the soldier imper- 
turbably, " didst thou not mark how yon damsel 
was taken aback when thou told'st her of the 
rout of yesterday ? " 

" Now thou speakest of it I call it to mind," 
admitted Geoffrey. " What of it ? " 

" This, fair sir : 'tis certain that none of this 
knight's followers have gained the shelter of the 
castle, otherwise the news would have been no 
news. I'll warrant, could we but cross the 
moat, that ten stout men-at-arms could carry 
the castle by escalade." 

'' Thine advice is good, Hubert," said Geof- 
frey, as the twain turned and rode back to their 
comrades. 

After a short council had been held, ten of the 



272 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

men-at-arms divested themselves of their arm- 
our, and armed only with their axes and daggers, 
ran boldly towards the moat. 

Here they were assailed by a shower of ill- 
directed stones, while from a few of the oyelets 
came an irregular discharge of arrows, shot so 
feebly that for the most part they failed to pass 
within a spear's length of the object of their 
intended mark. 

A roar of derisive laughter burst from the 
lips of the seasoned veterans, as without a 
moment's hesitation they plunged into the 
waters of the moat. Unscathed, though the 
stones churned up the water all around them, 
the men swam to the opposite side, where, 
taking advantage of a narrow terraced ridge of 
rock at the base of the castle walls, they gained 
the shelter of the raised drawbridge. 

Soon a coil of rope, weighted by an axe, was 
thrown deftly over one of the chains that sup- 
ported the drawbridge full thirty feet above the 
ground. 

" Up with thee, John o' Bosham," exclaimed 
the man who had been appointed the leader of 
the enterprise. " Thou wert a shipman ere 
thou wert man-at-arms. And thou, too, Peter 
of Gosport. Up with thee, I say." 

With their axes thrust into their belts the 
two soldiers swarmed up the swaying rope, and 
agilely balancing themselves on the chain, they 
looked about for some means to sever the stout 
iron links. Being without files they soon realized 
that the task was beyond them. 

" Try the woodwork, John ! " shouted one 



AT THE CASTLE 273 

of the men from below. *' Yet take good heed 
when thou hast done thy work." 

Bhthely the twain set to with their axes, and 
amid a shower of sphnters the chain-plate 
secured to the frame of the draw^bridge was cut 
out, falling with a loud clang against the wall. 

With that the two men-at-arms made their 
way astraddle of their lofty swaying perch, and 
having passed the rope through one of the links 
of the still-holding chain and secured themselves 
to it by their belts, they again fell to w^ork. 
" Stand clear below," exclaimed Peter, as the 
woodwork creaked ominously. 

The next moment the chain-plate was wrenched 
from its hold, and with a crash the heavy draw- 
bridge fell, rebounding more than once ere it 
came to rest. Then amid the cheers of their 
comrades the two daring and by this time well- 
nigh exhausted men slid down the rope to the 
ground. 

Meanwhile Geoffrey and the main body had 
not been idle. At great pains they had felled a 
young fir tree, and having stripped it of its 
branches, bore it to the edge of the moat. 

As the drawbridge fell, two score wilhng 
hands raised the heavy battering-ram, and 
recking not the shower of stones that rattled 
harmlessly on their headpieces, the men-at-arms 
attacked the iron-bound oaken door. 

At the third blow the massive timber was burst 
asunder, and with shouts of triumph the men- 
at-arms swarmed into the castle, to find it 
deserted save by half-a-dozen trembling serving 
women incongruously wearing steel headpieces, 

T 



274 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

two decrepit men-servants, and the Lady Aimfe 
d'Aulx 1 

" Thou hast conquered, sir," exclaimed the 
girl haughtily. " Accept my congratulations 
on thy feat of arms — this victory over a handful 
of helpless women-folk." 

" Nay, fair lady," replied Geoffre}^ advancing 
with raised visor. " We do not make war upon 
women. Rest assured, therefore, that neither 
thou nor thine will suffer harm." 

" Then why art thou here ? " 

" To carry out the orders of my royal master. 
Further " 

" The saints preserve me ! " exclaimed the 
damsel. " Of a surety I have seen thee before ? 
Ay, 'tis the youth that befriended us at the 
Dos d'Ane." 

" Shrewdly guessed, fair lady. I am in 
truth Geoffre}^ L3^sle, squire to Sir Thomas 
Carberry, and son of Sir Oliver Lysle, whom 
thy father holds captive in this castle, and 
whom it is my desire to set at liberty." 

" Tell me, young sir," asked the girl eagerly. 
'' Thou didst say that our arms have suffered a 
reverse ? Canst say aught concerning my father, 
Sir Raoul ? " 

" He is safe, though hurt ; a prisoner. More, 
he is my prisoner." 

" Then thou art willing to set him at liberty 
in exchange for thy sire ? " 

" My father I hope to regain by virtue of the 
success of our arms in the taking of this castle 
of Maissons. As for Sir Raoul, 'tis my purpose 
to receive two thousand crowns for his ransom." 



AT THE CASTLE 275 

" Like the rest of these Enghshmen, thou 
wouldst place money before honour ? " said the 
girl scornfully. " No doubt it was for that 
purpose alone that his life was spared ? " 

Geoffrey coloured at the unjust taunt. He 
shrank from telling how he had rescued Sir 
Raoul at the risk of his own life and honour, 
and that he had demanded the ransom solely 
on account of the archers, whose offers of 
quarter the knight had resolutely refused. 

" Tis the usage of war on both sides, fair 
lady," he replied with a dignity equal to her 
own. " But of that anon. Oswald, do thou 
conduct the Lady Aimee to her apartments, and 
see that none of the men-at-arms venture upon 
her privacy.'' 

Then turning to an old servitor, who, by 
reason of a bunch of keys hanging from his 
girdle, was evidently custodian of the keep — 

" Hasten thee, rascal, take me to the Lord 
of Warblington's quarters — or prison, which- 
ever it be.'' 

Obediently the man complied, and soon 
Geoffrey was grasping his father by the hand. 
His long quest had ended at last. 

Sir Oliver's quarters were plainly yet com- 
fortably furnished, and were situated in a part 
of the domestic buildings of the castle. Under 
his promise not to break faith with his captor 
unless ransomed or rescued, he had been allowed 
almost complete freedom, being at liberty to 
hunt in an adjoining forest, or to wander in or 
about the castle. Punctilious towards his cap- 
tor and strictly true to his parole, the Lord of 



276 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Warblington had endured his detention with 
fortitude, though his thoughts were ever speed- 
ing towards his wife and home across the 
Enghsh Channel. 

For the space of nearly two hours father and 
son remained in eager and joyous converse, 
while the soldiers were feasting in the courtyard 
of the castle, till the necessity of rejoining the 
English camp became apparent. 

" Art ready, Oswald ? " asked Geoffrey, after 
Sir Oliver had warmly greeted his faithful squire. 

" All is ready," replied Oswald, " but I bear 
a message from the Lady Aimee. She would 
see thee in the great hall." 

With mingled sensations of hope and fear 
Geoffrey made his way to the girl's presence. 
Seated on an oak chair, with two tiring maids 
in attendance, the Lady Aimee d'Aulx awaited 
the coming of her captor. She had discarded 
her steel corselet, and had taken particular 
care that her tresses should be rearranged, while 
in place of her riding-habit she had assumed a 
dark blue kirtle with hanging sleeves slashed 
with murrey-coloured silk, and on her head a 
high sugar-loafed cap after the fashion of the 
times. 

" Thy pleasure, fair lady ? " exclaimed Geof- 
frey, louting low before her. 

" Squire Geoffrey, I must needs make amends 
for my ill-natured tongue. Thy friend Oswald 
hath told me concerning thy generous and 
courteous treatment of my father. I crave thy 
forgiveness." 

Geoffrey vehemently protested that no for- 



AT THE CASTLE 277 

giveness was necessary, since nothing untoward 
could fall from the lips of the daughter of Sir 
Raoul d'Aulx. Then time passed rapidly and 
unheeded, for the two were engaged in animated 
conversation, regardless of the presence of the 
tiring maids who had discreetly withdrawn to 
one of the alcoves. 

At length the squire prepared to take his 
departure, for his ears had caught the warning 
long-drawn blast of a trumpet in the courtyard. 

" And hast thou truly forgotten what I said 
concerning my father's ransom ? " asked the 
girl. 

" Ay, truly." 

" And dost thou not require that / should be 
held to ransom, squire Geoffrey ? " 

For answer Geofirey's steel-grey eyes looked 
steadfastly into the dark glistening orbs of the 
Norman maiden. Then courteously and rever- 
ently he raised her hand to his lips. 

When Geoffrey Lysle rode away from the 
Castle of Maissons he took with him the heart 
of the Lady Aimee d'Aulx. 

True to his promise Geoffrey and his men-at- 
arms regained at dawn the English camp, where 
Sir Oliver received a rousing welcome, not only 
from his own retainers, but from the many 
knights who regarded him with the warmest 
feehngs of esteem. 

Though the men-at-arms who had carried 
out the raid on Maissons had had little rest, 
there was scant time for leisure. The army 
had to resume its march to Calais, where, accom- 



278 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

panied by a vast host of prisoners, Henry arrived 
without let or hindrance. 

Here, safe within the walls of that fortress, a 
council was held at which it was recognized 
that the only thing to be done at present was 
to return to England. A rest of several days 
was allowed to the hard-worked troops, during 
which time most of the prisoners, save those of 
higher rank, were permitted to depart upon pay- 
ment of their ransoms and the promise to take 
no active part against the invaders. 

Amongst the released captives was Sir Raoul 
d'Aulx. The two thousand crowns received 
by Geoffrey were handed over to the men to 
whom the ransom had already been promised. 
The French knight took farewell of Sir Oliver 
and his son with the utmost good humour, for 
the bonds of old comradeship betwixt the Lord 
of Warblington and the Seigneur of Maissons 
were too strong to be severed by the quarrels 
of two nations. 

At length, in the middle of November, the 
King with his victorious forces recrossed the 
Channel. At Dover the enthusiasm was intense, 
the townsfolk rushing knee-deep into the icy 
cold water to bear their national idol ashore, 
while the streets were hung with bright colours 
in honour of the brave. 

Thence, after a few days' rest in the castle, 
Henry resumed his triumphal progress to Lon- 
don, attended by his nobles, knights, and soldiers, 
and accompanied by his prisoners. 

But Sir Oliver Lysle did not bear his sovereign 
company. Since he had not taken an active 



AT THE CASTLE 279 

part in the campaign he was loth to share in the 
welcome extended to the veterans of that peril- 
ous march from Harfleur to Calais. So, obtain- 
ing permission to withdraw, he returned to 
Warblington Castle, whither Geoffrey and Os- 
wald hastened after the festivities in London 
were concluded. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

THE SIEGE OF ROUEN 

ALTHOUGH Henry V had left the shores 
of France without having concluded a 
treaty with his defeated foes, hostilities were 
practically suspended for a space of nearly 
two years. But in 1416 the King entered into 
an alliance with the Duke of Burgundy, who, 
since the fatal field of Agincourt, had become 
paramount in France. 

With this powerful ally Henry's chances of 
securing the French crown were greatly in- 
creased, and in the month of July, 1417, he 
again prepared to invade Normandy. 

After two years of ease following the strenu- 
ous life in the field, Geoffrey longed for the 
opportunity of buckling on his armour and 
again seeking his fortune in the land of the 
Fleur de Lys, and great was his delight when 
orders were received for the army to assemble 
at Southampton. 

As in the glorious expedition of 1415 Geoffrey 
went in attendance upon Sir Thomas Carberry, 
but with this difference : he was now the senior 
squire, a lad of fifteen, Walter Talbot by name, 
having recently been taken into the Constable 
of Portchester's service as junior squire. 

This time the star and mullet of the Lysles 

280 



THE SIEGE OF ROUEN 281 

was also in evidence, but without the waving 
black line, for Sir Oliver Lysle was now present 
in person to lead the men of Warblington. 
With him went Oswald Steyning, and though 
in separate companies the two comrades had 
ample opportunities of enjoying each other's 
companionship. 

Arnold Grip well, also, had joined the army 
assembled at Southampton. Sinewy as of yore 
the gaunt old man-at-arms looked no older 
than he did on the day when he watched in vain 
for his master's return in the Grace a Dieu, 
though in truth his strength was slowly failing. 

On the 1st day of August, 1417, the English 
army landed on the shores of Normandy, and 
the march of the invaders became a veritable 
pageant of martial triumph. The royal castle 
of Touques fell after a short siege, and dis- 
heartened by the success of their foes and torn 
b}^ internal dissensions, the French seemed to 
have given up all hope of holding the Duchy of 
Normandy. Damvilliers, Harcourt, Eu, Evreux, 
opened their gates without resistance, and after 
a stubborn yet ineffectual defence Caen was 
taken by escalade on the last day of August. 

Shortly after this success the Duke of Brit- 
tany deserted the cause of Charles of Valois, and 
swearing fealty to Henry, joined his forces to 
those of the invader, with the result that the 
town and castle of Falaise — so closely associated 
with William the Conqueror — surrendered on 
the second day of January, 1417. This w^as the 
last of Henry's successes in that year.^ 

^ It must be borne in mind that at this period the New 



282 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

Spring was well advanced ere the King left 
his quarters at Bayeux and marched up the left 
bank of the Seine. Once again he had set him- 
self a formidable task — this time the taking of 
Rouen, the capital of Normandy. 

The city was of immense strength, occupying 
a splendid natural position on the north or 
right bank of the Seine. Lofty walls, power- 
tally mounted with bombards and mangonels, 
completely encircled the town, the battlements 
being pierced by six gates on the landward side, 
in addition to the two water-gates that abutted 
on the spacious quays, where ships of consider- 
able burthen could moor after ascending the 
river from the sea. 

Its garrison consisted of twenty-five thousand 
men trained to the use of arms, while the num- 
bers of the ordinary inhabitants were largely 
increased by the influx of crowds of terrified 
country-folk who had sought a doubtful security 
behind the walls of the town. 

The presence of the host of non-combatants 
was a source of weakness to the besieged, since 
they had to be fed and could do little service 
in return, while the time of year was too early 
for the rich harvest to be gathered and stored 
within the town. 

Having seized and garrisoned the Pont de 
TArche, to three leagues above Rouen, the King 
was able to cut off all communications betwixt 
the city and Paris. He thereupon proceeded to 

year was reckoned from the ist of March, and not from 
the 1st of January. This peculiarity has given rise 
to many apparently conflicting dates in mediaeval history. 



THE SIEGE OF ROUEN 283 

erect six strong forts, one opposite each of the 
land-gates, connecting them by a " curtain '* 
or Hne of trenches strengthened with earthworks 
and pahsades. 

The river, too, was obstructed both above 
and below the town, by spiked booms and 
sunken barges, while in addition to a fleet of 
English vessels that had ascended the Seine 
and kept guard below the city, a number of 
large galleys were, by dint of much manual 
labour, dragged overland for a distance of 
nearly a league, and launched once more above 
the town. 

Having completed his circumvallation of 
Rouen the King, unwilling to risk a general 
assault, ordered a strict blockade to be main- 
tained, and in a very short time the besiegers 
settled down to their task, their works assuming 
the appearance of a town enveloping a town. 
The strictest discipline was maintained : even 
the wild Welsh levies and the still more un- 
trained Irish irregular cavalry were kept under 
perfect control, the punishment of death being 
inflicted upon all found guilty of plundering, 
and even on those who straggled beyond the 
lines. 

On the other hand, every day found the 
position of the besieged becoming more and 
more desperate ; and it was not long ere famine 
began to stalk through the congested streets of 
Rouen. 

Thereupon the governor of the town resolved 
upon a desperate and pitiless expedient. Ga- 
thering together nearly fifteen thousand of the 



284 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

non-belligerents, he ordered them to leave the 
city. 

As the last of the multitude issued from 
beneath the battlements the gates were shut. 
Thinking that they would be granted safe 
conduct through the English lines the miserable 
wretches advanced, forgetting their plight in 
their expectations of being able to find food in 
the open country beyond the entrenchments 
that encircled the town. 

But to their consternation Henry refused to 
allow any of the refugees to pass. Probably 
he thought that by so doing the Governor of 
Rouen would be compelled to re-admit them, 
and thus hasten the fall of the city through 
famine. On the other hand the Governor 
was of opinion that Henry would relent and 
allow the non-com.batants to pass. 

Neither King nor Governor would give way, 
and in consequence the fifteen thousand help- 
less wretches were cooped up betwixt two fires, 
subsisting on roots, and on the very scanty 
supplies with which the English soldiers, at great 
risk, secretly supplied them, in spite of the 
King's orders. 

Some succeeded in stealing through the in- 
vaders' lines. Hundreds fell by the hands of 
their own countrymen in attempting to force 
their way back into the town, while, save for a 
very few, the rest perished miserably of hunger. 

Henry's action can only be described as 
barbarous. Coupled with the massacre of 
prisoners at Agincourt it forms a blot upon his 
reputation, and in this case there was no such 



THE SIEGE OF ROUEN 285 

imperative necessity — those non-combatants 
could have done him no harm. 

Fortunately the Hampshire Companies were 
posted on the riverside, and in consequence 
Geoffrey and his companions were spared the 
horrors of the scenes that followed, though they 
heard with feelings of shame, and compassion 
of the barbarity practised upon the luckless folk. 

Slowly the siege wore on. No attempt was 
made to sally from the city, nor was there 
any on the part of the Dauphin to relieve the 
capital of Normandy, and thus the blockade, 
though rigidly enforced, became so tedious and 
irksome to the besiegers that they longed for 
something to occur that might rouse them into 
activity. 

One day in September, Sir Oliver Lysle and 
Sir Thomas Carberry had ridden to another part 
of the English lines to confer with Sir Brocas 
Scorton concerning the providing of a fresh 
supply of hurdles for the entrenchments. 

On this occasion neither knight saw fit to 
take his squire with him, and in consequence 
Geoffrey, Oswald, and young Walter Talbot, 
together with five or six other squires were 
holding a feast in one of the rooms of Sir Oliver's 
quarters ; it being the anniversary of Oswald's 
birthday. 

In the midst of the festivities a mounted 
messenger pulled up at the door, and knocking 
with the hilt of his dagger, demanded to be 
shown into Sir Oliver's presence. 

"He is not here," replied Oswald. " He 
hath gone to the lodging of Sir Brocas Scorton," 



286 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

" Then bear this letter to Sir OHver, young 
sir. Methinks thy revelries are apt to be rudely 
disturbed," replied the horseman, whom Geof- 
frey recognized as one of the King's own heralds. 
" But I must away, since I have three cartels 
to deliver within an hour.'' 

Evidently the missive was one of the greatest 
importance ; and consumed with impatience 
Geoffrey and Oswald made ready to ride across 
to the lodgings of the brave old Yorkshire 
knight. Sir Brocas Scorton. 

"By St. Wilfred of Ripon, thou art most 
fortunate," exclaimed Sir Brocas, as Sir Oliver 
read the King's order and passed it to the other 
two knights. 

" To our trusty and well-beloved Oliver Lysle, 
knight. Lord of the Castle of Warblington, in the 
county of Southampton, and at present serving 
with our forces before Rouen. Greeting. 

" Whereas it hath come to our knowledge 
that our rebellious subject Denis, Lord of 
Malevereux, hath caused us much trouble by his 
ill-conduct ; it is our pleasure that thou shouldst 
proceed to the before-mentioned Castle of 
Malevereux with such forces as thou mayst deem 
necessary and carry it by assault and hang the 
said Sir Denis upon the battlements of his castle. 
" (Signed) Henricus Quintus, Rex. 
" Ang: et Franc." 

" r faith, 'tis plain enough," remarked Sir 
Thomas Carberry. " Oliver, my right trusty 
friend and companion-in-arms, I pray thee that 



THE SIEGE OF ROUEN 287 

I may have a share in this business, though, be 
it understood, I do not aspire to any honour 
that might detract from thine advancement/' 

" I accept the offer of thy services, Thomas,'' 
repHed Sir Ohver. " Betwixt us we can muster 
eighty lances and four score and ten archers. 
If we are not able to bring this recreant to boot 
may I never see Warblington again. But there 
is no time to be lost ; the King's orders must 
be obeyed with promptitude, so. Sir Brocas, 
this matter concerning the hurdles must needs 
stand over a while." 

" May ye both be here to attend to it this 
day week," answered the Yorkshire knight. 
" So fare ye well." 

Ere sunset the two Hampshire knights with 
their squires and followers, nearly two hundred 
strong, were well on their way towards the 
gloomy Castle of Malevereux. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 

JUDGING by the grimly exultant expressions 
on the faces of the men, the expedition 
was a popular one. The Warblington men were 
well aware of the hardships their master and his 
son had undergone at the hands of the villain- 
ous Sir Denis, while the Portchester troops had 
occasion to remember that their Constable's 
squire had been treacherously detained by the 
Lord of Malevereux. 

There was also the inducement held out by 
the presence of vast quantities of booty to be 
had on the taking of the fortress ; while, above 
all, knight, squire, and common soldier realized 
that they were carrying out a direct command 
of the King. 

Owing to the fact that the archers were afoot 
the progress of the column was necessarily slow, 
and when Sir Oliver called a halt for the night 
only four leagues separated them from their 
late quarters before Rouen. 

The men slept in the open, wrapped in heavy 
cloaks. The horses, securely tethered, were 
placed in the centre of the camp, while sentinels 
were posted on all sides. 

Shortly after midnight the alarm was raised 
that the camp was attacked, and with shouts 

288 




WITH SPEAR-THRUST AND SWEEP OF AXE THEY FELL UPON THE STORMERS. 

[Page 2g6. 



THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 289 

of ** Stand to your arms ! '* the men-at-arms 
and archers, hastily awakened, formed up 
for the purpose of repelhng the threatened on- 
slaught. 

Standing at his post behind his sire and 
the Constable, Geoffrey could make out the 
sharp thud of the hoofs of numerous horses, 
while a babel of discordant sounds, shouted in a 
foreign tongue, resounded on all sides of the 
camp. 

" Archers, make ready ; let no man loose till 
I give the word," shouted Sir Oliver, as, waiting 
sword in hand, he strove to detect something 
in the voices of his unseen antagonists that 
might tell him who they were ! 

In spite of their rude awakening the soldiers 
preserved a coolness only to be gained by con- 
stant training in the field. Mechanically the 
dismounted men-at-arms fell into line, and 
dropping on one knee, drove the butts of their 
long spears into the earth, while in the inter- 
vening gaps the archers, with arrow on string, 
awaited the order to let fly their deadly 
shafts. 

Thrice the unseen cavalry galloped com- 
pletely round the bristling circle of steel, though 
at a respectful distance, as if attempting to 
find a weak spot at which to deliver an attack. 

" Let them keep to it," remarked Sir OHver, 
with a laugh. " Methinks their horses will be 
blown ere they come within bow-shot." 

" Pile on more wood, then," ordered Sir 
Thomas Carberry. " Make a rousing blaze, 
for 'tis in our favour, since our backs are to 



290 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the light. Then perchance we may have a 
gUmpse of our doughty foes." 

" They shout in no French tongue, fair sir/* 
exclaimed Geoffrey. 

" Then, perchance, they are the German 
troops whom, report saith, the Dauphin hath 
hired." 

" A truce to conjectures," said Sir Oliver. 
" Sound a tucket — one of our camp calls — and 
see what that will bring forth." 

Hardly had the last notes of the trumpet 
died away ere the discord ceased, save for 
the clattering of a single horseman, who rode 
straight for the hedge of steel, guided by the 
fiercely-blazing camp-fire. 

" Stand ! Thy name, condition and errand," 
shouted Sir Oliver. 

A rich rolling voice replied, " I am Sir Brian 
of Ennisbarry, in the county of Wexford. If 
ye be enemies of the King of England look to 
yourselves. Further, should any knight among 
you wish to ease his soul or seek some small 
advancement, I am here to help him in the 
furthering o'it." 

" Certes, 'tis the Irish kernes," observed Sir 
Oliver in an undertone ; then raising his voice 
he replied — 

" Greetings, Sir Brian : two most unworthy 
knights of Southampton give thee welcome. I 
pray thee first quiet thy followers, then if it 
please thee join us around the camp-fire." 

Amid a babel of voices the Irish horse- 
men formed a bivouac within a bow-shot of 
their English companions-in-arms, and when 



THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 291 

they had settled for the night, for they were 
about to encamp just before they stumbled 
across the outposts, Sir Brian, attended by 
two squires, rode up to the two Hampshire 
knights. 

" Once again welcome. Sir Brian," exclaimed 
Sir Oliver. '' Though I am af eared we have 
but sorry fare to offer thee." 

" Sure, 'tis better than I've had these last 
two days," replied the Irishman, quaffing a horn 
of wine that Oswald had produced from the 
baggage on his master's sumpter horse. 

Sir Brian was a short, slender man of about 
fifty years of age. He was clean-shaven, thus 
revealing a long upper lip and a strongly-formed 
cloven chin. His bluish-grey eyes were close 
set, and brimming with good-humour. His 
hair fell in long lank masses from beneath a 
cone-shaped steel cap. His body was unpro- 
tected by defensive armour save by a breast- 
plate that terminated at his waist, and was 
without gorget. From his belt dangled a long, 
cross-hilted sword in a scabbard of black leather, 
ornamented with Runic characters, while across 
his back was slung a targe of wood covered 
with undressed leather. 

As for his two squires, they were unable to 
speak a word of English, and since Geoffrey 
and Oswald were ignorant of Irish their attempts 
to entertain their visitors were limited to dumb 
show. 

It was a strange story that Sir Brian related 
a part of. His light cavalry had been surprised 
earlier in the day by the soldiers of Sir Denis, 



292 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

and after a fierce engagement the former were 
compelled to retreat, leaving four of their 
number in the hands of the Lord of Malevereux, 
by whose orders they were hanged on the 
battlements of the castle. 

When the Irish knight heard that Sir Oliver 
was about to assault the stronghold of Sir Denis, 
his excitement knew no bounds. He would, 
he declared, join his men with those of the 
Hampshire knights. There would be booty 
enough and to spare for all, but he chiefly desired 
vengeance upon the Lord of Malevereux for the 
execution of his four men. 

" As thou wilt. Sir Brian," quoth Sir Oliver. 
" The more the merrier ; but, since we start at 
daybreak, thou hadst best seek repose." 

When the march was resumed a strange 
sight met Geoffrey's eyes. He had often heard 
of the King's Irish kernes, but since they were 
employed almost exclusively in scouring the 
country around Rouen, he had never before 
had the opportunity of seeing them. 

They were for the most part only partially 
clad. Many were barefooted, others boasted 
of one stocking and one shoe only. They rode 
barebacked upon wiry mountain horses, so 
small that the riders' feet came within a few 
inches of the ground. 

All except their leader were quite without 
armour, their offensive weapons consisting of 
stout spears and long double-edged knives, 
while a few carried round targes provided with 
a steel spike in the place of a boss. Though they 
were ill-disciplined they were excellent scouts, 



THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 293 

while in a hand-to-hand conflict they made up 
for their lack of mail by a wild impetuosity that 
struck terror into the hearts of the well-accoutred 
French men-at-arms. 

It was late in the afternoon when the expedi- 
tionary force came in sight of the Castle of 
Malevereux. The appearance of the gloomy 
pile, rendered even more forbidding by the pres- 
ence of four gibbets and their ghastly burdens 
standing clearly against the sky, aroused many 
burning thoughts in Geoffrey's mind. 

As it was too late that day to open the assault 
Sir Oliver ordered his men to rest themselves, 
and having constructed hasty entrenchments 
the Englishmen and their Hibernian allies lay 
around the castle, so that none might leave or 
enter. 

The night passed without interruption, and 
shortly after daybreak preparations were made 
to deliver an assault upon the frowning walls. 
From the neighbouring woods the besiegers 
obtained timber, out of which rough ladders 
were constructed, while the Irish levies, who 
had tethered their horses at a safe distance from 
the castle, were kept busily employed in gather- 
ing and carrying bundles of straw and faggots to 
fill the moat. 

Clad in complete mail, Sir Oliver, accompanied 
by his squire and a mounted man-at-arms, rode 
towards the gateway, while a strong body of 
archers occupied a position half a bow-shot in the 
rear. 

To all outward appearances the castle seemed 
deserted, save by the dangling corpses of the 



294 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

unfortunate Irish prisoners, but on Sir Oliver 
ordering a rousing blast to be sounded, a burly 
figure, whom Geofey recognized from a distance 
as Sir Denis, appeared on the battlements, wear- 
ing a white scarf. 

" In the name of the most puissant sovereign 
Henry King of England and France, I, Oliver, 
knight of Warblington, summon thee, Denis de 
Valadour, Lord of Malevereux, to give up the 
said castle immediately and unconditionally,*' 
shouted the English knight. 

For an answer, Sir Denis raised his right arm, 
and pointed derisively at the swaying bodies 
that hung from the gibbets. This action was 
the signal for a sudden discharge of cross-bow 
bolts from the oyelets, while a huge stone hurled 
by a mangonel cunningly concealed behind a 
projecting spur of masonry, flew but a few inches 
above Sir Oliver's head. As for the bolts, one 
glanced from Oswald's shield, another struck 
the horse of the man-at-arms to the earth, but 
the rest either fell short or wide. 

Standing in his stirrups the Lord of Warbling- 
ton shook his fist at the treacherous and recreant 
Norman, while a flight of arrows, well and truly 
sped, rattled against the corslet and visor of Sir 
Denis. Whether any of the missiles took eftect 
or not the Englishmen were unable to see, but 
the knight quickly disappeared behind the 
parapet. 

Scorning to turn his face from the foe, Sir 
Oliver, regardless of the bolts that still came 
from the castle, slowly backed his horse till 
out of range. 



THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 295 

'' This will be a right jo3^ous encounter, 
Thomas," he exclaimed to his companion knight, 
at the same time dismounting and handing his 
steed over to the care of an archer. " Is all 
prepared ? " 

" Ay," replied Carberry. " The men are 
like hounds in leash. Look also, I pray thee, 
at those Irish." 

" Sir Brian hath a strange following, yet, 
methinks they are not lacking in courage e'en 
though they may err through rashness. But 
bid the archers shoot." 

Under a fire so straight and true that none 
of the enemy dared show himself, the Irish 
kernes ran up to the dry moat and threw 
down their burdens, till a swaying yet passable 
causeway took the place of the raised draw- 
bridge. 

" Men-at-arms ! In the name of St. George 
and for Merrie England — forward ! " shouted 
Sir Oliver, and with one accord squires and 
common soldiers ran steadily towards the walls, 
keeping decorously behind the two mail-clad 
knights, whose armour greatly retarded their 
speed. 

Mingled with the men-at-arms were several 
archers, whose special duty it was to carry the 
scaling ladders up to the walls, while in the 
rear their comrades maintained their steady 
fire. 

The mass of panting, shouting, and excited 
men gained the edge of the moat, and, with 
swords and axes brandished above their heads, 
prepared to follow Sir Oliver and Sir John across 



296 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the temporary bridge, when a cross-bowman 
more daring than his fellows showed himself 
for an instant above the battlements and shot 
his bolt. 

The next instant he toppled over the parapet, 
pierced by half-a-score of arrows ; but the 
mischief was already done, for the quarrel 
transfixed Sir Oliver's leg just above the left 
genouillere, or metal knee-cap. 

With a crash the knight fell to the ground, 
but as two men-at-arms rushed to his assistance 
he waved them off. 

" To the walls," he exclaimed. " Ye can do 
much service there. As for me, I will tarry here 
till we gain the castle." 

In spite of this momentary check the stormers 
pressed forward, and scaling ladders were reared, 
and, led by Sir Thomas Carberry, the men-at- 
arms clambered impetuously up the swaying 
and creaking timber. 

Hitherto the English archers had kept the 
garrison well in check, but now, fearful of 
harming friend as well as foe, they desisted. 
In a moment the battlements were thronged 
by the desperate defenders, foremost of whom 
was Sir Denis. 

With spear thrust and sweep of axe they fell 
upon the stormers ere the latter could gain 
a footing on the walls. Many an Englishman 
and Norman, clasped in a deadly embrace, 
were tumbled from the battlements ; to the 
hoarse shouts of the combatants were added the 
shrieks of the maimed and wounded, while the 
steady stream of ascending men continued 



THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 297 

without any appreciable sign of a lodgement 
being obtained upon the fiercely-defended 
wall. 

Geoffrey, sword in hand, found himself half- 
way up the creaking ladder, when a loud shout 
of warning rose high above the din. The enemy 
had loosened a huge mass of masonry, and 
toppling it over, sw^ept the ladders of their 
human burden. 

From the mingled crush of dead and wounded 
the survivors contrived to extricate themselves, 
and, hopelessly repulsed, began to give back, 
with cries of rage and alarm. 

Shaken and bruised from head to foot, but 
otherwise unhurt, Geoffrey found himself lying 
on the brushwood that had broken his fall. 
With an effort he regained his feet, stung with 
the bitterness of defeat. 

" Stand ! " he shouted to the wavering men- 
at-arms. " Stand ! E'en though we have not 
yet won the day we cannot leave our comrades 
here." 

Encouraged by his words, and by the fact 
that the English archers were again able to 
deliver a death-dealing flight of arrows, the 
discomfited men-at-arms stood their ground, 
and began to remove the bodies of their unfor- 
tunate comrades from the floor of the moat, and 
with some semblance of order they retired to 
the rear of the bowmen. 

The losses in the repulse had been great. 
In addition to Sir Oliver, the Constable of 
Portchester had been stunned through being 
hurled from the ladder, while eleven dead and 



298 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

fifteen badly wounded men-at-arms testified 
to the stubbornness of the defence. 

" Geoffrey, my son/' exclaimed Sir Oliver, 
as Gripwell and another man-at-arms were 
preparing to withdraw the quarrel from his leg, 
" on thee has fallen the command. Thou 
must needs turn this check into victory, and 
that soon, otherwise 'tis better to perish to a 
man than to return to our King beaten and dis- 
honoured." 

Then overcome by the anguish of his wound 
the knight swooned. 

The squire realized the responsibility that 
had been forced upon him. Undoubtedly 
he must act, and that quickly ; yet he 
was adverse to making another attempt 
without adopting some other and better plan 
of attack. 

Hastily conferring with Oswald, Gripwell, 
and Sir Brian, he expounded his proposals for 
the renewed assault. The Irish, who had hither- 
to been held in reserve, were to set fire to the 
heap of faggots and straw that lay in the moat 
before the gateway. Should the latter be 
sufficiently charred to enable it to be splintered 
with axes, the kernes were to dash through the 
smouldering embers and force an entrance ; 
while the men-at-arms, led by Geoffrey, were 
to assail the postern through which the two 
squires had effected their escape on the occasion 
of their captivity. 

The main entrance and this portion being on 
opposite sides of the castle gave the attackers 
an advantage, inasmuch as the besieged would 



THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 299 

be compelled to divide their numbers instead of 
concentrating the whole of their forces in one 
spot. 

" Bravely thought of, young sir/' exclaimed 
Sir Brian. '' Give my fellows but a footing 
in the gateway, and they'll serve yon villains 
as did the blessed St. Patrick the serpents in ould 
Ireland." 

" Saving thy presence, sir," quoth the master 
bowman. " Our stock of arrows is but scanty. 
Already many of the archers have empty 
quivers." 

" Then I pray thee bid them husband their 
shafts," replied Geoffrey. " Without a cover- 
ing flight the escalade will assuredly be a doubly- 
hard task. Art ready. Sir Brian ? " 

Supported by a steady discharge of arrows 
a body of the Irish levies, bearing flaming 
torches, rushed to the edge of the moat, and 
in a few moments a crackling column of flame 
ascended. 

While the fire was in progress, Geoffrey, 
profiting by the confusion, led his men-at- 
arms to the opposite side of the castle, where, 
lying in ambush in the depression formed by a 
brook, they waited the signal for the combined 
assault. 

As soon as the fire had burned itself out. Sir 
Brian placed himself at the head of his men, and 
with a wild shout the Irish rushed at the charred 
door. Though numbers fell as they crossed the 
moat the advance was irresistible. With a 
ponderous crash the timbered door was shat- 
tered, and the ill-armed swarm of Irishmen flung 



300 UNDER KING HENRY^S BANNERS 

themselves upon their better accoutred yet 
demorahzed foes. 

Meanwhile the English men-at-arms had 
crossed the pike-studded moat, and, ere the 
defenders were aware of the assault, fifty mail- 
clad warriors had forced the wicket gate at the 
end of the disused postern-gallery. 

With shouts of triumph the assailants threaded 
their way through the narrow tortuous passages 
and emerged at the inner bailey. Here they 
found themselves in the rear of the survivors 
of the garrison, who were being hard pressed 
by the Irish kernes. 

Caught betwixt two bodies of their attackers 
the Normans fought with the fury of despair, 
scorning to ask the quarter that they knew 
would be denied them. 

Sir Denis was almost the last to fall. In spite 
of his cruel and treacherous character he was no 
coward in the fight, and wielding his axe with 
ferocious skill and strength, he kept at bay the 
circle of steel that surrounded him. 

At length, mindful of Geoffrey's shouts to 
take him alive, three of the men-at-arms using 
a stout plank as a means of offence, brought 
him to his knees. Even then the knight con- 
tinued to lay about him, till he was finally over- 
borne by a rush of the infuriated Irish, who 
were with the utmost difficulty prevented 
from plunging their knives into his body. 

" I pray thee make an end and that quickly,'* 
exclaimed Sir Denis dauntlessly, when, at the 
end of the combat, he was brought before 
Geoffrey. 



THE FATE OF MALEVEREUX 301 

" That I must do," replied the squire. " Yet 
e'en though thou hast dealt foully with me and 
mine, 'tis not by my will that thou must die. 
By the orders of my sovereign lord — and thine, 
though thou art a rebel — thou must be hanged 
on thine own battlements." 

" Hanged ! " exclaimed Sir Denis, his face 
turning an ashen grey. " Hanged ! Tis im- 
possible. A knight to die a villein's death ? " 

" Such are mine orders," replied Geoffrey 
curtly, " If there is aught on thy mind thou 
may est have an hour's respite." 

The sun was sinking low in the west as the 
doomed prisoner, accompanied by a strong 
guard of men-at arms and archers, was led to the 
battlements, where Sir Brian, Geoffrey, Oswald 
and Walter Talbot were present to execute the 
King's commands. Already some of the Irish 
troops had removed the bodies of their comrades 
from the gallows, and the rope of one was in 
readiness to receive its victim. 

With a firm step Sir Denis walked to the place 
assigned for him, his arms bound behind his 
back, and his neck bared for the fatal 
noose. 

" Young sir," said he, " cannot this be put 
aside ? I do not beg for hfe, yet of thy 
charity, give me the axe rather than the 
cord." 

" Nay," replied Geoffrey shortly, for he could 
not trust himself to say more. Then turning 
to the archers he signed to them to proceed with 
their^work. 

Aft one of the men bent to secure the knight's 



302 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

ankles, Sir Denis leapt backwards, sprang on to 
the parapet, and with a hoarse roar of defiance, 
dropped to his death upon the rocks fifty feet 
below. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

THE GOLDEN SPURS 

THAT night the victorious troops spent in 
possession of the captured castle. Sir 
Ohver and Sir Thomas Carberry were brought 
within the fortress, and every possible care was 
bestowed upon the disabled leaders. 

Sir Oliver's wound, though not dangerous, 
would prevent his taking the field for many 
weeks to come, while the Constable of Port- 
chester's condition gave cause for great anxiety. 
It was, therefore, decided to remove the two 
knights and the two score and nine wounded 
soldiers to the Castle of Taillemartel, that had 
long since been occupied by the English in- 
vaders. 

Accordingly this was done, and the helpless 
men were sent thither in wains under a suitable 
guard ; the Castle of Malevereux was thor- 
oughly plundered, and afterwards given to the 
flames ; and the Irish kernes, each man with 
a goodly bundle of loot thrown across his wiry 
steed, rode off to find fresh openings for their 
activity. 

Mustering his scanty force, Geoffrey gave the 
word to march, and with eight wagons, piled 
high with booty, the column set off towards the 
King's camp before Rouen, leaving a tall pillar 

303 



304 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

of smoke in their rear as a token that their 
mission was accompHshed, and that the accursed 
pile of Malevereux would no more be a terror 
to the countryside. 

Without interruption the two companies 
arrived (at Pont de I'Arche, where Geoffrey 
handed over the spoil to the custody of the 
keeper of warlike stores. This done, the 
march was resumed towards their quarters 
on the left bank of the Seine. 

At a bend in the road Geoffrey perceived a 
large body of horsemen riding towards him. 
Knowing not whether they were friend or foe, 
since straggling parties of Frenchmen frequently 
assailed the English outposts, the squire ordered 
his men-at-arms to dismount and the archers 
to make ready. 

" Canst discern their banners ? '' he asked of 
Oswald, who was riding at his left. 

" Nay, the sun is behind them," replied Sir 
Oliver's squire. " Yet, for their numbers there 
is no lack of standards and banners." 

As he spoke a horseman was observed to leave 
his party and ride rapidly in the direction of the 
Hampshire men. 

" Hold ! " he shouted, when he came within 
hailing distance. " Who and what are ye ? " 

" We are of the companies of Sir Oliver Lysle 
and of Sir Thomas Carberry," replied Oswald, 
" and are for the camp before Rouen, having 
completed some small enterprise at the Castle 
of Malevereux." 

" Then why are not the banners of these two 
gentle knights displayed ? " returned the horse- 



THE GOLDEN SPURS 305 

man. " But delay thine explanations : yonder 
is none other than King Henry. To him thou 
must needs give account of thyself." 

With fast-beating heart and rising colour, 
Geoffrey ordered his men to redress their ranks, 
and with Oswald at his side, and Grip well, bear- 
ing the furled banner of Malevereux, close be- 
hind him, the young leader rode to meet his 
royal master. 

The King had that morning made a circuit 
of the entrenchments, and accompanied by the 
Dukes of Exeter, Gloucester, and Clarence, and 
a galaxy of gaily attired nobles and clerics — 
amongst the latter being the warlike Cardinal 
Beaufort — was on the point of returning to his 
quarters when the sight of a column of armed 
men marching from the direction of Malevereux 
arrested his attention. 

" By my halidom 1 " exclaimed the King. 
" We would know why yon body of soldiers 
should approach our lines without displaying 
the banner of the knight in command. 'Tis 
contrary to our express orders. Therefore, Sir 
Gilbert, ride over and ask their leader why our 
commands are disregarded. Bid them also 
approach, so that we may see what manner of 
men they are.'* 

" From Malevereux ! '' exclaimed Henry on 
the return of his messenger. " Then Sir Oliver 
hath failed to carry out our commands ? Dare 
he return with defeat written broad upon his 
features ? " 

Impatiently the King awaited the approach 
of the leader of the expedition, the absence of 



3o6 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

the knight's banner having misled him as to the 
issue of the enterprise. 

" Where is Sir Ohver Lysle ? '' he demanded. 

" Sire, he hath been wounded and hath been 
left at the Castle of Taillemartel, as also hath 
Sir Thomas Carberry/' replied Geoffrey. 

'* And the rebel Sir Denis of Malevereux : 
hath he been hanged on the battlements of his 
own castle, according to our commands ? '' 

" Nay, Sire " - 

" Then thou hast ventured to return hither 
branded with the unpardonable disgrace of 
defeat ? " 

" Sire," replied Geoffrey, pointing to the 
captured standard that Arnold Gripwell had 
unfurled, " Sir Denis is dead, slain by his own 
act, ere we could work thy will upon him. We 
were, by the grace of God, able to carry the 
castle after one repulse." And in a few words 
the squire gave a plain account of what had 
occurred during the expedition, modestly omit- 
ting the gallant part he had played in the final 
assault. 

" Thy name, squire ? " demanded the King, 
and Geoffrey gave it. 

" By our Lady ! Thou art the same that 
served us right well at Southampton, and 
again on the eve of our victory at Agincourt, 
though at the end of that thou didst wellnigh 
place thy neck in a halter. By the soul of my 
father we have a good memory for such matters. 
Now, return to thy company, young sir. Sir 
Gilbert, bring before us the two squires whom 
we perceive stand at the head of the column," 



THE GOLDEN SPURS 307 

The King listened attentively to Oswald's 
version of the capture of Malevereux, the squire 
mentioning several details that Geoffrey had 
purposely omitted, while young Talbot stoutly 
praised Geoffrey's bravery in rallying the dis- 
comfited stormers at the termination of the 
first onslaught. 

" Then 'tis to Squire Lysle that the credit of 
the successful assault is due ? " remarked Henry. 
" Are we to understand that both Sir Oliver 
and the Constable of Portchester were sore 
hurt before the second attempt was made ? 
And is this the reason why their banners are not 
displayed ? " 

" Such is the case, Sire," replied Oswald. 

Once again Geoffrey was called before his 
sovereign, while the men-at-arms and archers 
were formed up in a double line twenty paces 
from where the King and his retinue were 
standing. 

" Geoffrey Lysle, squire to that right worthy 
knight, Sir Thomas Carberry," began the King, 
" it hath been our pleasure to receive from the 
hand of thy master no slight account of thy 
deeds and thy devotion to duty in times past. 
Moreover, under divers circumstances, we our- 
selves have witnessed thy courage on the field of 
battle. 

" Concerning this latter we are judging by 
the outward appearance, which, as we know to 
our cost, is apt to be deceptive. E'en the 
sweetest flower may harbour a vile worm gnaw- 
ing at its stalk unperceived ; a brave coat of 
mail may conceal a craven heart, a closed visor 



3o8 UNDER KING HENRY'S BANNERS 

a face graven with treachery. Yet, on the 
other hand, Sir Thomas hath had ample oppor- 
tunities to study thee at the festive board, in 
the camp, and in the hour of peril. Courage 
alone counteth for little ; yet, when consorting 
with loyalty, truthfulness, and humanit}^ 'tis 
a fitting quality for a knight. 

" Thou hast found thyself in petty disgrace 
ere now, young squire, yet for this we must 
make due allowance withal. By our Lady, we 
can call to mind divers misdeeds committed 
in our youth, the which our enemies have 
thought fit to make much of. Hence we can 
lightly pass over thy transgressions and reward 
thy good and gallant deeds in the past." Then 
turning to Sir Gilbert the King asked for his 
sword. 

" Kneel, young sir." 

With bowed head and overflowing heart 
Geoffrey sank on his knee. The long-hoped-for 
guerdon was his. 

" Arise, Sir Geoffrey Lysle ! " exclaimed the 
King in a ringing voice, bringing the blade 
lightly down upon the young warrior's shoulder. 

Amid loud shouts of delight and redoubled 
cries of " Long live the King ! " Geoffrey arose, 
and, with more words of good cheer and advice, 
Henry re-mounted his charger, and accompanied 
by his suite resumed his way to the camp. 

With the passing of Geoffrey Lysle the Squire 
our story draws to a close. 

It remains to be said that the newly-made 
knight bore himself right valiantly throughout 



THE GOLDEN SPURS 309 

the long-drawn siege of Rouen and the stern 
conflict before Pontoise, adding to his laurels in 
a manner worthy of a man whom the King had 
delighted to honour. 

After the Perpetual Treaty of Troyes, Geoffrey 
followed the example of his royal master, and 
took unto himself a wife from the Land of the 
Fleurs de Lys, the fair bride being Aimee, 
daughter of the chivalrous Raoul d'Aulx. 

Oft-times did Sir Geoffrey Lysle cross the 
Channel under the banner of England, and, in 
the dark pages of history relating to the undoing 
of all that King Henry V had achieved, his 
deeds, together with those of numerous warriors, 
both of high and low degree, serve to show that 
in the hour of defeat the spirit of the English 
nation can still remain undaunted. 

Oswald Steyning, too, won his spurs, by a 
signal act of devoted gallantry at Verneuil. 
Throughout the long-drawn contest for the 
possession of the realm of France the two knights 
maintained the bond of friendship gemented 
in their early days, and on their retirement 
from service in the field no joust or spear- 
running held in the counties of Hampshire and 
Sussex was considered a success unless hon- 
oured by the presence of the veteran knights, 
Sir Geoffrey Lysle and Sir Oswald Steyning. 

The valiant old man-at-arms, Arnold Gripwell, 
settled down to a quiet life upon his freehold 
farm purchased by the hard-earned spoils of the 
field of battle. But his martial instincts oft re- 
asserted themselves, especially when, surround- 
ed by an eager crowd of boys — the future guar- 



310 UNDER KING HENRTS BANNERS 

dians of the sea-girt realm of England — he 
would relate the story of how the young Squire 
of Warblington won his spurs in the glorious 
days of Agincourt. 




THE END 



Printed by Butler & Tanner, Frome and London. 



Some attractive Volumes from the Catalogue of 
THE PILGRIM PRESS. 



SPLEND/D SELECTION OF BSOKS FOR BOYS. 
R08ERT LEICHTON'S ROMANCES. 

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Nautical Magatine.—'* While the historic narrative of the Battle of the Baltic is 
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A Romance of the Sea. With Illustrations by J. W. CHARLTON. 
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A Tale of the Spanish Armada. Illustrated by Paul Hardy. 
Imperial l6mo, cloth boards, 3s. 6d. [Second Edition. 

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An Historical Romance of the Mediterranean. With Illustrations 
by Maynard Brown. Imperial i6rao, cloth boards, 3s. 6d. 

{Third Edition, 
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By OTHER AUTHORS. 
A GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER. 

A Story of Panama, 1698. By John Bloundelle-Burton, 
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